A new alert system being installed on the University of Alberta campus will better notify students, staff and employees in case of emergencies similar to the shooting of four armoured guards last June.

"We are now directly addressing the people that we need to protect quickest, who the threat is most imminent to," said Bill Mowbray, director of protective services on campus.

The Alertus system is installed in 50 lecture halls across campus and will soon be expanded to popular common areas.

The system will work in conjunction with the text and email emergency messaging system already in place.

"Mass notification is not always rapid notification," said Jim Newman, superintendent of protective services. "This system — with these devices — it's fairly rapid and that's important in trying to get it out in a timely manner."

In addition to a high-pitched alarm, a message moves across the digital displays installed at the front of the classroom.

A similar message can then be posted on all boards across campus or one tailor-made for each board to fit the situation, Newman said.

"We may send a particular message to this building and send another message to other buildings saying 'stay away from this location,'" he said.

Mowbray said the system was not installed as a result of the Hub Mall fatal shootings last June.

That's when four armoured guards were gunned down, three fatally, as they refilled ATBs at HUB Mall in an early-morning robbery attempt.

The university did not activate the campus emergency notification system to alert student residents to the ambush.

The Alertus system is being gradually installed across campus.

With files from CBC's John Archer