While the devastation of blizzards, tornados, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters is tremendous, there are many stories of lives saved by receiving quick notification of approaching storms and dangerous situations through Emergency Short Message Service (SMS) and Voice Broadcast Systems. Receiving a heads-up via text messaging when most other means of communication are down can be extremely beneficial for businesses, universities, and of course, emergency services organizations.
These affordable, mass notification tools are needed to notify customers of store closings due to weather, let employees know not to come to work today, notify students of class cancellations due to storms and make city residents aware of potential disasters.
There are four key points to know before getting started with Emergency SMS/Voice Broadcast Systems:
1. It is not complicated. All that is required is a phone and internet connection and an assigned “point person” or administrator in the organization or group. Once registered with an internet telephony provider, such as CallFire, the administrator creates a keyword and notifies recipients. Per the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the emergency alert subscribers are required to opt-in. Then, the administrator compiles a list of the telephone numbers of participants. When an emergency occurs, the administrator logs into the organization’s account to create and distribute an SMS or Voice Broadcast message. Additional messages can be sent as frequently as needed.
2. Understand the rules. The FCC requires that businesses and organizations offering Emergency SMS/Voice Broadcast Systems obtain both opt-in and opt-out permissions from each cell phone owner to be contacted. Though academic institutions are required by the Clery Act to send emergency notifications when certain emergencies occur, they too must abide by the same FCC regulations as businesses and other organizations.
3. The system is efficient and affordable. Emergency SMS/Voice Broadcast Systems will send your message to recipients within seconds. The average transmission time for all mobile carriers for the service is less than seven seconds and offers an almost 100 percent open/answer rate. Also, unlike regular mail messages, SMS communications also are not subject to spam filters and bypass full voice mailboxes.
4. Everyone wins. Emergency SMS/Voice Broadcast Systems work to provide communications during very stressful situations. County and city authorities, school administrators, and company leaders can instantly provide information that can direct people to safe havens out of harm’s way and give real-time directives when needed.
Implementing an emergency notification system is simply smart business. CallFire, Rave Alert, and SMSMatrix are just a few examples of companies providing easy, affordable set-up for Emergency SMS/Voice Broadcast Systems with some plans starting at $10 per month.