Global Engagement Solutions for Higher Education


Syracuse University Broadens Use of Global Engagement Technology to Meet COVID Needs & Beyond

November 19, 2021


In March 2020, as students were forced to quickly return home from their study abroad programs, Syracuse University had just deployed AlertTraveler, Terra Dotta’s traveler safety and security solution that sends students abroad real-time alerts about emergencies on the ground and enables staff to quickly verify their safety and communicate with them. While they weren’t able to immediately use the solution at scale for hundreds of study abroad students as intended, Syracuse’s staff discovered an innovative way to use AlertTraveler to meet its in-the-moment, COVID-related needs—tracking students who travel domestically.

At the start of the spring 2021 semester, as COVID rates were in flux in different parts of the country, Syracuse administrators discouraged students from leaving central New York state except for essential family reasons. Among a student population of about 22,850, many might be traveling at any given time, this became a problem - if students failed to comply with required weekly COVID tests, Syracuse limited their access to campus resources, including Wi-Fi. Students who were traveling would find themselves facing loss of access to Wi-Fi and other services because they were out of town and missed their scheduled COVID test appointment.

As a solution, Syracuse worked with Terra Dotta to set up a system for students to use AlertTraveler to select their reason for travel, travel location, and their departure and return dates. “The tool was fantastic because you can create reasons for travel on the fly,” he said. “We created a reason for travel—Essential Family Travel—and we asked them to select a reason for travel and to fill in their travel data.”

Syracuse staff could then grant the traveling student an exemption from the weekly COVID test and ensure that their services, including the all-important Wi-Fi, were not cut off. Syracuse has also resumed its originally intended use of AlertTraveler for study abroad as travel opportunities are expanding—ensuring an elevated level of duty of care for all travelers.