Text Message Troubleshooting: 4 Challenges Your Campus Should Address

Here’s how campuses can start to tackle some of the shortcomings associated with text messaging disaster notification solutions.

Sending emergency alerts via SMS text messages to cell phones has gained a lot of traction on campuses this past year. Sixty-nine percent of respondents to the CS Mass Notification Study indicate they are currently using some form of text messaging to notify campus constituents of an emergency. Fifty-seven percent say they will soon be deploying this type of system.

And why shouldn’t they? The value of text messaging emergency alerts cannot be understated. Because of the popularity of text messaging among young adults, if students are sent an alert via this modality, they are more likely to heed its warning.

Additionally, text messages can travel far beyond campus boundaries. “It is important to remember that communication with off-campus students, faculty and staff is just as important as the on-campus community,” says 3n’s Director of Marketing Linda Souza. “If a dangerous event occurs on campus, many lives can be saved by preventing people from literally walking into harm’s way.”

On the K-12 side, text messages (as well as voice messages and E-mails) can be sent to parents automatically regarding attendance, outreach and other non-emergencies (e.g. back-to-school night announcements). Some solutions offer a portal that allows campuses/districts to collect additional contact information they might not already have in their databases.

But hold on… A closer look at these solutions has revealed not only the opportunities they provide, but some challenges that must be addressed. Just like other mass notification methods, text messaging shouldn’t be relied on as the only way a campus meets its emergency notification needs. This solution, although valuable, has its limitations too.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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