It's called the Illini Alert system.
Police use it when they need to let people know if they're in danger.
But we found, a recent message went out two hours after police were called out to the scene.
WCIA 3's Cynthia Schweigert is putting why that happened in perspective.
A text message is the first piece of information students saw about what would become a very serious scene on East John Street earlier this month.
It was sent through the Illini Alert System at 3:30 a.m. on November 4th.
It warned students about a barricaded subject with a gun, and urged them to stay away.
But a news release the Champaign Police Department sent us, says officers were called to the area around 1:30 that morning.
That's a two hour gap between police on the scene and the campus community in the know.
The incident happened at an apartment building at 109 E. John St.
But why did it take so long to get the information about what was happening on the scene to students?
"One of the things we need to do is verify that an incident occurred or is occurring or that a threat exists," says Lt. Tony Brown with the U of I Police Department.
He was on duty that night and in charge of getting the message to students.
He says it took awhile for police to confirm the threat was real.
Officers were called about an armed man who shot at his roommate.
Lt. Brown says when they called in the SWAT team and used the bomb robot to search the apartment, he decided to push out the alert.
"We get reports somewhat frequently of incidents in the Champaign-Urbana area never really occurring," Lt. Brown says.
He also explains, if they err on the side of sending out too many alerts, people may not pay attention when something serious comes up.
However, Brown admits, this was not the best situation.
"It took longer to verify that there was a threat than we would ideally like," he says.
Students say, in all, the alert system works well.
"I' think it's very timely and efficient," says student Zhanar Abil.
"It's actually really helpful for the students to know what's going on around campus," adds Cynthia Butler, also a U of I student.
The people we talked to say officers should take their time verifying information before pressing send.
"I would hope that people would be 100% sure before they send out the emails," says student Carl Denard.
The U of I Police Department tested the Illini Alert system earlier this fall.
The lieutenant in charge of it says about 98% of people who registered their phones got the message in less than five minutes.
The Illini Alert system also uses email, facebook, and twitter to push out information.