CallFire Emergency SMS Text Messaging Notification Case Study: Southern Wesleyan University

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Learn How Government Organizations Can Utilize SMS Text Messaging for Emergency Notification

Due to the ubiquity of mobile devices, SMS text messaging is an ideal medium for universities to keep students apprised of important notifications. In a partnership with CallFire, Southern Wesleyan University recently implemented a campus wide text notification campaign. Due to the success of the campaign, CallFire has released an SMS text notification case study to help government agencies and universities build their own emergency notification programs. Here is a sample from the report:

Southern Wesleyan University approached CallFire with an interesting problem. Based in the Midwest, snowstorms, tornadoes, forest fires and hurricanes are signatures of the four seasons. Schools and universities today are required to send emergency notifications to their students and staff with emergency weather updates (Clery Act (Public Law 110-315, 2008)). Managing such SMS alerts has become increasingly simple with SMS emergency notification. With strict legal requirements on ensuring that a message securely gets properly transmitted to the recipient, the challenge of such campaigns is making sure everyone receives this text message notification.

In the case of Southern Wesleyan there were four requirements:

1. Federal telecommunications laws require OptIN and OptOUT permissions from the cell phone owner.

2. Some cell phone plans require a subscription process to accept your SMS messages. The SMS gateway provider would have to be compatible with such carrier requirements.

3. Emergencies by definition require quick activation.

4. Schools and offices want to minimize the maintenance of the phone lists and the OptIN/OUT procedures.

With CallFire’s new SMS gateway, Southern Wesleyan University was able to build an effective notification program:

  • CallFire’s SMS short code keyword service provides quick and low maintenance emergency service
  • SWU purchased a keyword: i.e. schoolAlert for $25/month. SMS messages costs only $0.03 per person. Sending 1000 alerts costs only $30.
  • To enroll participants, SWU sent out out emails and distributed brochures advising students of the service. The alert service was also announced in weekly convocations. To enroll, students and staff text a message “subscribe schoolAlert” to CallFire’s short code number: 67076
  • Subscribers received an immediate feedback :”Congratulations you are subscribed to the Southern Wesleyan University Alert service.”
  • Students and staff who did not receive this “Congratulations” text message were told to call the schools emergency number. CallFire collected and trouble shot these cellphone problems for the school to guarantee their inclusion in the alert service.
  • CallFire maintained the emergency phone list for the school. When students or staff leave the school they simply text an “unsubscribe schoolAlert” to Callfire’s short code number, 67076, to discontinue the service.
  • CallFire sent SWU emergency notification and security staff a 1 page checklist. Staff

could send out a text message within minutes just following the directions.

When tornadoes approached the SWU campus, the notification program was important to the university's response efforts. Students received quick and accurate information on how to prepare for these storms. According to Joseph Brockinton, SWU Vice President for Student life "The Alert went well. I was in my office and was able to use the 'cheat' sheet and everything went smoothly. We sent out OPT In emails and have run notices on our chapel announcement screens prior to and following chapel. Bottom line: The system worked."

CallFire works with many states and municipalities to manage emergency notifications. Our cloud based SMS emergency notification system makes sending important messages at critical times easy and with very little costs. To learn more on how short codes can help your business, feel free to contact the CallFire support team at (877) 897-FIRE, or email the CallFire support team at support(at)callfire(dot)com.

About CallFire: CallFire is a Text and Voice platform that helps businesses reach customers, drive revenue and increase sales. We make telephone messaging simple. CallFire products include Business Text Messaging, Voice Broadcast, Toll Free Numbers, Local Phone Numbers, Call Tracking, Virtual Receptionist, Power Dialing for agents and more. Call analytics enable our 50,000 users to reach customers more often using text marketing, virtual numbers, autodialers and mobile messaging. To learn more about how to Grow your Business, visit http://www.CallFire.com.

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Jake Weiss
Skyy Consulting Inc.
213-221-2289
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