SMSEagle is exhibiting at Ineltec 2017

Ineltec is a Swiss trade fair that has been supporting the electrical engineering and building automation industry for 50 years. In recent years, building automation has become a key technology when it comes to building, modernizing, comfortably, safely and energetically.

This year on 12.-15.9.2017  at the exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, SMSEagle devices were presented for the first time at the fair in the booth of our Swiss Sales Partner Alltron.

For the presentation during the show Alltron has prepared a special box containing:

  • SMSEagle NXS-9700
  • Two DINrail power supplies. One for 12V to run the SMSEagle, 1 for 5V to have the right voltage for the DI
  • Two optocoupler relays to use the DO 5V to switch 230V outputs
  • A double-Pushbutton to switch on 5V tension on the DI
  • Power Outlets, Swiss Typ J (T13) to attach two lamps. They are connected to the relays so we can switch them by sending an SMS
  • DIN-Rail to mount all the devices

That allowed to present the following features at the exhibiton:

  • Pushing one of the Buttons -> Send an SMS to a cellphone: “Alert, Button 1 pushed”, “Alert, Button 2 pushed”. So we were able to show that an sensor can be connected to the device and that it can send an emergency notification for example if temperature is to high/low in the server room.
  • Sending an SMS with “DO1 ON”, “DO1 OFF”, “DO2 ON”, “DO2 OFF” allowed us to switch two 230V lamps over the relays. Furthermore the SMS is converted to an email and sent to gmail account that was connected to the email client on a laptop. So we have the opportunity to see who (which number) switch the lamps without connecting to the SMSEagle
  • Email to SMS is configured to send an email to a cell phone
  • Email to SMS poller is also configured with gmail.com account. Checked all 5sec for new e-mails
  • SMS to Email is configured. All Incoming SMS were forwared to gmail account
  • Network monitoring is configured with sample NETIO device. When the network connection failed for 30 sec, an emergency SMS was sent.

This is just a few of possible usage scenarios that SMSEagle devices could support. It allowed to present the device versatility and ability to work well in different application fields.

Why Digital Marketers Embrace SMS Campaigns

Digital marketers are constantly looking for new ways to present their products and services to existing and potential customers. While this attitude to adopt the latest and greatest innovations, whether it is big data, machine learning or virtual reality, is to be applauded, the reality is that older yet effective methods or technologies are often neglected. One example of this is SMS (Short Messaging Service). Readers of this post should bear in mind that is not a self-serving statement for SMSEagle (who incorporate SMS features into their products as a means of reducing network downtime by ensuring alerts are made when local area networks (LANs) go down) but instead a means of pointing out that SMS is not yet dead and offers advantages over other methods of communication.

When it comes to mobile marketing, would it surprise you to learn that SMS is one of the top four tactics used? However, despite this fact, according to Gartner’s 2016 Digital Channel Survey, 61 per cent of digital marketers don’t use it and just a third plan to invest in SMS in the next year. Strange, when Gartner’s own research director, Charles Golvin, stated that, “SMS remains an effective, yet underutilized, mobile tactic among marketing leaders and is particularly valuable when used in conjunction with mobile techniques such as wallet, web and native applications to orchestrate a deepening level of customer engagement.” Considering Gartner’s global position in the technology and research advisory field, perhaps he is worth listening to?

Let’s look at some of the advantages SMS offers digital marketers who target a mobile audience:

Reach

Social media is of practical benefit in mobile marketing but can only target those with Internet-ready smartphones, tablets or laptops. SMS caters for everyone with a mobile phone. If you can make a call, you can receive an SMS. This is the reason many TV shows allow public voting by SMS, to maximise the available audience and ensure that everyone can vote. Companies dealing with developing countries know only too well that they cannot assume everyone has a smartphone and usually have several ways to connect with their audience, with SMS a primary method.

Engagement

One of the primary aims of marketing is engagement and without it marketing is pointless. How many of us ignore banner ads, install ad blockers and actively avoid unwanted marketing messages on social media and by email? In comparison, how many of us will ignore an SMS? With opening rates of 98 per cent claimed in various surveys, SMS messaging ensures that the message is read and for the most part each message is opened within three minutes after an alert is received. If the message is of value (the subject of another story) then the likelihood of additional interaction is increased.

Eco-Friendly

Obvious but still worth stating, SMS has no carbon footprint. While this may also be true of other online methods, with SMS there are no design elements involved. In addition, the same cannot be said for direct mailing campaigns, brochures, flyers and other offline methods that are not eco-friendly, at least without recycling programs etc.

Convenience for All

A pertinent text message with a maximum of 140 characters takes far less time to create than launch pages, popups and other methods that require graphic design expertise. As for the recipient, it’s easy to subscribe to an SMS list using a shortcode and most jurisdictions will enforce convenient opt-out methods for users that wish to unsubscribe.

Out of Office?

How can marketers ensure their message is delivered to the recipient quickly? As we all know, most of us are glued to our mobile devices. The same is not true of other methods, emails can go unread for days and mail is classified as junk, often ending up in the bin unopened.

Just like our keys, we notice if our mobile phone is not to hand, making SMS the best way to ensure that each user received the message promptly. Even when charging our phones are within reach and we rarely ignore an SMS alert but social alerts don’t create the same sense of urgency.

Personal?

SMS feels more personal as it’s linked to your phone number, which is not widely dispersed. Marketers know the message will be read and will attempt to personal each message accordingly as it is assumed that each recipient is willing to receive information from their chosen companies. Loyalty programs and special offers are often managed through SMS, for example.

Cost

While email and social is free, SMS does incur a charge of a few cents in some areas but many carrier plans offer free SMS or the ability to purchase SMS credits in bulk. Your selection of an SMS plan will depend on the size of your target audience but given the potential return in active engagement, can you really afford to ignore SMS based on some deeply held conviction that the technology is obsolete?

In conclusion, while SMS has indeed been around for more than 20 years, it is still a valuable addition to the marketer’s toolkit. No one can claim SMS alone will be sufficient for all your marketing needs but perceptive marketers will understand that it can indeed be a valuable addition to a targeted marketing strategy, especially when timing is key (sending early morning or lunchtime updates for example). By incorporating SMS, digital marketers have nothing to lose and everything to gain. What do you think? Is SMS marketing adoption worth it or do you have an alternative that caters for those who may not own a smartphone?

 

Michael O’Dwyer is a Hong Kong-based business and technology journalist, independent consultant and writer whose stories have appeared on Forbes.com, The Street, IBM’s Midsize Insider, HP’S Pulse of IT, Dell’s Tech Page One and other IT portals, typically covering areas where business and technology intersect. He writes for both US and UK audiences and acts as a technology and open source advocate in his personal and professional activities. Twitter: @MJODWYERHK

Network Monitoring — How SMS can Reduce Risk and Improve Response Time

As a network administrator, your role is a complex one but your primary task is to keep the network active and ensure that all users have smooth access to all network assets. You may have to conduct performance tests, hardware and software inventory audits (including virtual machines) and monitor areas from UPS battery status to current website connections. Configuration and maintenance take up more of your time. A variety of monitoring tasks are necessary and you perform all of them using a combination of enterprise solutions, third-party software and open source tools.

Where does SMS fit into this high-tech environment? In technology terms, SMS has been around a long time (since 1992) and many falsely believe that it is no longer of value today. This is not the case as the technology is still used in many practical applications, in emergency alert systems, in marketing and, of course, it also has valuable applications in network monitoring.

Network Downtime

Sometimes technology fails, an unfortunate fact of life, but true nonetheless. When your network goes down, your business will grind to a halt in most cases. A power outage, for example, will typically mean that all network communication will cease from that moment on. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS’) may delay the inevitable for a few hours and generators will ensure local access continues. However, if the power loss is not confined to your building but instead a blackout affecting your neighbourhood, city or county, then you can assume your broadband connection has been lost.

If this occurs during office hours, when IT staff are onsite, then normal service will resume as soon as the power returns. However, what happens if the outage occurs outside office hours and you have an e-commerce store that relies on your servers and a high-speed broadband connection? You may have scheduled backups or support sites that have been interrupted. In such a setting, it is important that service is resumed quickly.

In most cases, you will be unaware of the outage until the start of the next working day. Can your company afford such a delay? Consider the financial and reputational impact of this downtime.

Citing a 2015 IHS report, Network Computing’s Joe Strangelli estimated “ a cost to North American companies of $700 billion a year for ICT outages. This includes lost employee productivity (78%), lost revenue (17%), and actual costs to fix the downtime issues (5%).”

Of the 400 mid to large U.S. companies surveyed, an average of five downtime incidents take place each year, with costs for each incident ranging from $1 million to $60 million.

Luckily, it is possible to eliminate some of the risk.

SMS Benefits

If your network goes down, response time is the most important factor as solving the problem quickly reduces downtime costs.  Sending an alert to your IT admin may seem an obvious solution but how is this achieved?

An SMS gateway is a way to build in some form of redundancy to your network alerts. If your network is down, a standard email or network alert will not work as… the network is not operational due to loss of power or loss of connection. An SMS gateway has its own power source, a SIM card to allow cellular network access and preconfigured alert messages. Once the gateway detects connectivity loss, it sends an SMS to the network administrator. It can also send emails if a 2G+ data connection is available. 2G is slow but functional. SMS is effective for several reasons – it works on all mobile networks (from GSM to 4G) and on all mobile phones.

In addition, the recipient is more likely to respond quickly to an SMS alert than any other form of electronic communication. Given the number of tweets, beeps, pings and other audio notifications on smartphones, it is surprising that SMS still retains top status in terms of response rates, but marketers confirm that SMS creates a genuine sense of urgency for each received message.

Therefore, your network administrator is sure to act quickly after receiving an SMS alert, and with any luck, can get your network operational as soon as possible.

Other considerations

Companies with SMS gateways in place can relax, secure in the knowledge that essential connections are monitored and that once inactive, an alert is sent out to the responsible parties.

However, alerts alone are not enough to ensure network uptime. As mentioned previously, technology will fail and a comprehensive inventory of spare parts is necessary to mimimise network downtime. Human error and cybersecurity threats are other issues that alerts will not solve–but IT and security awareness training for all employees will not only mitigate these threats but also reduce the risk of network downtime.

In conclusion, when network downtime occurs, you need a rapid response team. Given the cost of downtime to your company, it is worth ensuring your network administrator receives immediate alerts when the network fails. This not only makes financial sense but is a no-brainer for maximising business continuity and preventing reputational damage.

 

Michael O’Dwyer is a Hong Kong-based business and technology journalist, independent consultant and writer whose stories have appeared on Forbes.com, The Street, IBM’s Midsize Insider, HP’S Pulse of IT, Dell’s Tech Page One and other IT portals, typically covering areas where business and technology intersect. He writes for both US and UK audiences and acts as a technology and open source advocate in his personal and professional activities. Twitter: @MJODWYERHK

Business Cost Savings – Using SMS Keeps Employees From Getting Distracted

Complicated methods to improve workflow and efficiency may work in a tactical sense. However, if you are looking to make large strides in your office workflow, then you need to fix the big and obvious problems. One problem that is often overlooked is the issue of employees becoming distracted by one or more of the many tools that we place in front of them to improve their efficiency. All too often, these tools contain built-in noise that take away from the practical use of the tool.

Our proclivity to upgrade to the latest technology on the front edge of the curve is a natural intuition. Many companies incorporated IM functionality into their communications infrastructure over SMS simply because it was the latest gadget to have. However, IM apps tend to introduce a great deal more noise than simple SMS apps while the efficiency of the more complex technology has yet to really be proven. With this in mind, we must ask the question: Does using SMS keep employees from getting distracted?

The follow-up question: Does the business lose any efficiency by “downgrading” to SMS versus IM?

Let’s answer the second question first. SMS is far from a downgrade with respect to IM. SMS is a more streamlined technology that has proven itself to be more business oriented. The modern generation of SMS tools loses no business functionality when compared to instant messaging.

Your employees will be able to send simple messages; however, they will also be able to attach complex documents and audiovisual presentations. They can stay in touch remotely and collaborate on projects. SMS has also future proofed itself as a general technology. As long as your infrastructure is properly maintained, you can always upgrade to the next level of communications.

The real issue is whether instant messaging creates many distractions for workplace. Instant messaging was created from a consumer standpoint, and still serves that function today. Many IM apps come with background videos, advertisements and pop-up links that do not stay in the background for long. This is especially true if you do not upgrade your service from behind the paywall.

Your communications infrastructure must take into account the human element of your business as well. It is irresponsible to treat employees like children – giving them a full-featured IM technology, telling them to use it for communications, and then punishing them for interacting with the built-in noise is a fast way to reduce office morale. Trying to cut off the problem by creating harsh rules creates an even worse effect. Your employees will likely find ways to defy you behind your back, increasing the hidden inefficiencies in your office that are much more difficult to weed out.

No, it is much better to incorporate a technology that is already streamlined for business. SMS is just as capable as its cousin IM with less noise to distract your employees. Because there are less temptations to begin with, there are less rules for your management and executive class to impose upon your front-line employees. Everyone stays happier, and everyone works more efficiently. The moral of the story: You do not always have to upgrade with the crowd, especially if the crowd is not performing to the level of your business.

4 Smart Ways to Combine Texting With Other Marketing Efforts

It’s not hard to talk glowingly about texting since it has become one of the most acceptable ways of interaction these days.

Whether it’s sending a text to someone else or a group of people, texting takes little time and few words to create and send, and it’s likely to be viewed quickly, almost instantly by most recipients.

Texting has definite advantages over email, especially how people are more likely to check their texts as soon as they arrive, since everyone keeps their phones handy. And it has even more advantages over voice mail: who uses their smartphones for talking anymore anyway?

It’s also becoming a favorite tool for marketers, since it can be downright simple to compose one text and send it to all or certain of your customers nearly instantly, compared to several batches for mass emailing. People are also likely to act on an offer contained in a text quickly, such as a special deal or link.

Texting services also can help companies keep track of replies and collate all responses, instead of you and your team having to answer all of them all one by one.

But as effective as texting can be, it shouldn’t be your sole outreach tool for marketing campaigns. Not everyone wants or likes  texting, and some wireless packages even allow users to block all texts.

A more effective marketing effort should include texting plus other services. This can help connect with a larger audience and potentially more customers.

The proper balance of text to non-text outreach will have to be determined by you based on feedback on your promotions, but you can enjoy experimenting.

Try these strategies to blend texting with other traditional methods:

·  Email. Though it may take hours, even days, for people to read an email, email can still be an effective way to share information. You can have unlimited space, rather than the limited number of characters allowed per text. You also can include a variety of graphics especially with automated mail templates for ad campaigns. People are also more willing to join an email list rather than sign up for texting. It’s much less invasive and intrusive than texting and most users are more familiar with emails, simply because email has been around longer. With the extra space, you have more opportunity to “sell” people on the merits of your product or service, rather than pushing them to make a quick decision with a “click here for a super deal” message.

·  Social media. Though some mass text programs allow you to automatically put your name or the recipient’s name in a text, this personalization isn’t the same as a full conversation. With social media sites you have more opportunity to get dialogue going and showing off what you’re doing, such as fun photos. You also can offer regular links to your blog or site in your posts. It’s all absolutely free, unless you’re paying to boost or sponsor posts.

·  Other methods. Direct mail and traditional mass media advertising can be useful for reaching larger general groups of potential customers. You also don’t need specific consent or opt-ins from your recipients either, which are legally required for texting.

·  A global approach. Integrating all of these methods can be a smart way to reach a much larger audience than text alone, especially if you plan your message over several weeks or even months. You can use the concept of a ‘drip campaign’ to make sure your recipients receive your message in at least one form, preferably more. The idea is to plan a sequence of communications to reach people, with different messages but the same call to action.

For instance, a general campaign can start with mass advertisements, and the response from this can help narrow the size of your audiences for future contacts and also get them familiar with what you’re offering. By the time people start to receive your texts they hopefully have seen your message in other forms, so the texts can seem like a personal invitation to make a purchase or visit your site.

Overall, while texting is a valuable outreach tool, other platforms used in conjunction can help provide a larger reach and improve the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

 

Joe Butler writes about personal finances and the modern retail experience. He loves the idea of mobile coupons, since he frequently forgets the paper ones at home.
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5 easy ways retailers can use texting services to bring in customers

Retail history is full of people focusing on small details while having big dreams. For instance, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton used to fly his own tiny plane to stake out possible future store locations, or drive boxes of clothing over back roads himself to avoid highway tolls.

J.C. Penney founder James Cash Penney was said to go out of his way to pick up any dropped spare change, especially pennies, saying that it all adds up fast.

But as thrifty as both men were, they also felt that customer satisfaction was equally important, and that most shoppers want a good deal as much as the store does.

Today many retail owners, managers and marketing teams continue this philosophy. There is more competition, including online marketplaces, but there also more opportunities, especially where mobile devices are considered.

They make it easy for shoppers to enjoy browsing a store’s site from anywhere they please, and also to place an order if your shop offers secure online purchasing. But to really communicate to customers and drive them to keep on shopping you need to incorporate texting into your marketing plan.

Since a growing number of people are texting more frequently, a text from a favorite store isn’t a novelty anymore, but may even be expected.

Try these examples of how a retailer of any size can get the word out directly and effectively to their audience.

·         Coupons. Since everyone still loves a deal, they also likely won’t mind when they get a text with a link to a nice discount. Even better, it will always be easy to get to and redeem, unlike a hard copy coupon that’s easy to lose or leave at home.

·         Special sales. While a coupon could be used for one product, a text notifying subscribers about an upcoming sale can include deals in several departments or on several products. Photos also can help get people excited. People can also shop the sale online or at an actual location.

·         VIP area. A texting service can allow retailers to create different databases based on customer preferences. There could be a general one that anyone can subscribe to, and even a more elite one for ‘better’ customers – you decide the eligibility. A certain level of spending? A certain number of years of being an active customer? Or the fact that they subscribed for extra texts and promotions makes them VIPs. This area can include deeper or more frequent discounts, different sales, or more familiar-sounding texts.

·         Personal contact. If your customer base in the hundreds or thousands, it’s no longer easy to communicate with them unless they come into the store and say hello. But with texting, you can contact people directly on occasion as a special treat. Or use your database and texting program to automatically put the person’s first name in the text.  This automated personal touch will come across like a direct invitation. How can you say no?

·         Try geofencing. Your online team may already know how to deliver specific ads to your phone when you’re in a certain geographic area. (It has to do with the WiFi signal and specific geographic coordinates.) But the same principle can be used for texting:  how about an automated  text when a shopper is physically near your retail location? This will get a shopper’s attention even faster than seeing it on their email browser and could nudge them to visit.

For more suggestions on useful ways to use text and texting services to benefit your retail business, visit smseagle.eu/blog.

 

Joe Butler writes about personal finances and the modern retail experience. He loves the idea of mobile coupons, since he frequently forgets the paper ones at home.
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Why texting can benefit patients & health care providers.

Texting is becoming a prime method of communicating, so it’s natural the practice is moving into health care.

Patients like how texting a nurse or doctor can bypass the receptionist, answering service or voice mail and not require scheduling or waiting for an appointment. It’s also discrete to text a provider to discuss problem, and not have anyone overhear.

Medical office staff may find that texting can help their organization as well, including assisting with scheduling and even reduce call volume if more patients text questions.

In fact, about the only people who haven’t been sure about the appropriateness of texts in health cares are providers themselves. Their reasons seem generally less about the potential for improving quality of care, and more about the complex legal challenges that could arise when doctors start texting.

First, the modern physician is busy seeing patients and with paperwork, so taking time to text may cut into a crowded schedule or take time away from patient visits. Being able to directly contact a doctor anytime also changes the dynamic of the modern medical system where most doctors have plenty of gatekeepers/staff between him/her and the patient.

There are also questions if a text from a doctor constitutes actual medical advice or just a conversation. Then there are the potential violations of HIPPAA, the medical privacy law designed to prevent unauthorized disclosure of patient information.

Physician groups have been wrestling with texting for years, but in 2016, The Joint Commission voted to permit them, provided physicians take steps to keep their phones secure and encrypted.  The organization felt there could be greater benefits for patient care, such as physicians being able to quickly send texts to consult with colleagues, nurses or pharmacists.

Other areas where texting has been in use or has shown potential in health care include:

  • Office assistance. Patients can send in texts requesting appointments, or offices can use automated texting software to confirm and remind them about upcoming visits.
  • Unscheduled appointments. Some emergency rooms and urgent care centers are now accepting texts. This can alert the staff that a patient is coming in so they can begin the paperwork process, rather than waiting for the patient to arrive to start registration. Some facilities also can return a text from a potential patient to advise how long the wait time is, and confirm that the patient has a place on the list. This has the potential to reduce wait times at both of these types of providers.
  • Regular health information. A medical office can ‘push’ information out to its patients and other text subscribers such as invitations to come in on a regular basis for procedures like flu shots in the fall or sun screening in the spring. Texts can drive people to health info on the practice’s site, an e-newsletter other useful health and wellness resources, such as links from local public health officials. Some texting programs also can be synced to a database so someone’s name can appear.
  • General questions. While providers may be wary of sending patient information by text, such as test results, they may consider asking one member of their staff to take on this duty. This option can be announced to patients to assure them that it’s OK to text as long as they follow certain rules.  Along with directly answering and assisting, they can text useful links to help answer someone’s question. This can provide legitimate medical information, rather than encouraging the patient to do their information online, which can be risky at times with so many inaccuracies.
  • Health alerts. As a service to the local patient community, texts can be sent out with information about epidemics and general medical emergencies like epidemics or disasters.

Because physicians are just beginning to explore the potential of texting, there are plenty of possible ways to improve efficiency and delivery of care in the future.

 

Joe Butler writes about personal finances and the modern retail experience. He loves the idea of mobile coupons, since he frequently forgets the paper ones at home.
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5 reasons why schools should add texting to safety plans

Today’s college officials face challenges that that previous generations of education professionals never had to deal with, starting with the Internet.

Though advances in digital technology have generally been a good thing as far as program delivery and creating more interactive multimedia classroom experiences, they have also created more potential for harm, or at least new distractions for instructors and students.

At the same time, interest in school security has also risen, partly due to increases in violence at secondary schools and colleges. Though shootings get headlines and cause high levels of fear, other crimes can take place too, including assaults with other weapons.

Because of a push to keep students safer, educators and security staff continue to search for new methods to alert students during a crisis – it doesn’t have to be violence, but any occasion when information needs to be delivered in a hurry. Perhaps it could be a natural disaster or even a serious traffic accident or weather situation that could impact traffic in and out of campus.

One solution that has gained popularity is texting, when school officials can send instructions to students and faculty in the event of a safety situation.

Here’s why it should be added to a college’s security plan.

  • Students are more likely to see a text first.

Emergency warnings in the past have included mass emails or automated phone calls. But these may not be able to be seen as quickly as a text – sometimes emails or voice messages aren’t checked for hours or days while a text can be seen in minutes. Since more students are using mobile devices, especially for texting, it’s likely that they will hear and see an immediate message, or at least someone near them will.

  • It’s a faster delivery method.

Depending on your particular texting service, thousands of one-to-many texts can be sent a matter of minutes. In comparison, thousands of mass emails must be sent in small bursts over hours to avoid spam detectors. Texts are also universal – the same message can be seen on everyone’s phone.

  • Brief is better.

In emergency situations, school officials may just send out short details and quick instructions, with the expectation that more info will be shared later. “Active shooter on campus, seek shelter.” “Tornado coming, stay indoors, will text all-clear later.”

  • No reply needed.

Sending one-to-one texts can create opportunities for a conversation, but one-to-many texts aren’t intended for interaction, only instructions. Officials sending texts may not have time or interest to answer the same question multiple times, so it’s easier just to send an identical message out to everyone.

  • Different databases can be managed easily.

A college may have multiple ‘text’ lists, such as students on different campuses, or even local media. Plus it may have an ‘everyone’ list.  Most texting programs make it easy to specify which database when creating a message. This can make sure the correct students and staff receive the message.

Secondary schools like middle schools and elementary schools will likely require different texting policies than colleges. Younger students may not even own mobile phones, or if they do have them, they may not be permitted in the classroom.

In this case, school alerts should be sent to faculty/staff and perhaps a separate database for parents. These also can give quick, direct information with the promise of more details to come. “School in lockdown. Keep students calm and in classrooms.” “Fire in gym, please evacuate to field.”

Leaders also should keep in mind that every school’s texting plan should be customized based on local resources and the local community.

Overall, it’s critical that a school gets the word out as much as possible prior to launching a texting service to make sure many as many people sign up. Schools also should consider sending out several types of warnings, not just texts, in case a student may not have their phone on or even with them on any given day.

 

Joe Butler writes about personal finances and the modern retail experience. He loves the idea of mobile coupons, since he frequently forgets the paper ones at home.
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