The recent tragic events on the Virginia Tech campus showed both how far we’ve come in terms of using technology to disseminate information to a large group of people quickly, and how far we still need to go. While it’s admirable that Virginia Tech used email to notify people about the situation, it proved to be the wrong communication vehicle for this.
The main problem is that the email warning was sent out when a lot of students were already en route to their classes and therefore not able to access their email accounts. In a CNN article about the tragedy, security expert Mike Brooks stated that relying too much on email as an alert system doesn’t work because “If you’re not in your dorm, not at your computer, or you don’t have a hand-held device, you’re not going to know.”
A much better alternative for such emergency alerts is a text message campaign. In the ever increasing on-the-go society in which we live, people just aren’t always around their computers to receive such messages. However, what most people do have with them are their cell phones. Text messaging is a much better solution for these circumstances because of the following reasons:
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Greater chance they will have their cell phone with them, especially during off-hours.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Sending messages even when regular phone service is disrupted due to emergencies or when their Internet connections are down.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ A text message can have a tactile response. When it buzzes in a user’s pocket, usually making them check the message immediately to see if it’s something they need to respond to right away.
Of course, in order to implement a text messaging alert system you need technology robust enough to handle the load. You need a solution that is fast, reliable and extensible. You also want the flexibility to roll out initiatives to both large and small groups, without breaking the bank in the process.
Not exactly an easy task. In fact, in that same CNN article a Virginia Tech police official stated that they were considering using text messaging for such emergency alerts but hadn’t implemented anything yet.
In order for a system like this to work, here are some key features that must be considered:
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Alerts created and sent from a Web-based control panel or generated at the last-second directly from a mobile device.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ A special “Are you OK?” feature allowing your people to text back where they are and how they are doing.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Support for all major US Carriers including Sprint, Cinguar, Verizon and T-mobile.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Rapid delivery within a few minutes to all on the send list, regardless of database size.
We recently created a solution called STAT (Stun Texting Alert Technology). As a digital messaging company, we’re acutely aware of the power that a broadcast message can have, not just for marketing but as a communication tool to quickly get the word out for any situation. For more information on STAT email us, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-492-7886. We are dedicated to helping organizations respond to emergencies as quickly as possible.