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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6 reasons why texting works better than app push notifications

There are plenty of people, perhaps even you, who believe that an app is the answer to every company’s communication challenges.

It’s true that apps are generally easy to find and install. Since more people are using mobile devices, some as a prime source of communication instead of a desktop or a laptop, an app isn’t a bad way to access information without visiting your device’s browser.

Plus, ‘push’ notifications from some apps make it easy to provide you the exact info you need rather than having to search it out.

However, there’s also another digital tool that’s even easier to work with: the text message.

Some have said that SMS has served its purpose and is past its prime, but texting continues to be a popular way of interacting. Here’s why:

  • You can respond. Push notifications are one-way messages sent to everyone who has signed up through an app. If you want to respond or have further questions, you must find contact info through your app or a company site, and then send an email, a voice mail or even a text. With texts you can always respond and even have a conversation.
  • Access to larger audiences. Not everyone who is a fan of a particular company or product will download its official app, or even has the right type of phone to do so. But just about everyone has text capabilities on their mobile devices. Businesses wanting to connect with more subscribers and potential customers can easily send texts rather than cultivating the smaller number of app subscribers.
  • Easy to create multiple lists and manage multiple campaigns. Companies that send out mass texts can use texting programs to segment different audiences, often by different topics, demographic info or interests. But with push notifications, every subscriber gets the same message, although every end-user can configure how they’re displayed.
  • Texting is inexpensive. Texting is one of the more affordable ways to contact customers. You may have to pay extra if you create MMS (multimedia messages with audio, video or photo attachments) or buy short codes, which are words and numbers customers can use to respond to you. In comparison, an app can be a significant financial investment for your company. Whether you’re building one from the ground up or a using a third-party, the process takes weeks or even months of design and testing time.
  • Easy sign-up. To subscribe to a business text list requires only one opt-in, where you inform the company that you want to start receiving their messages. Push notifications, on the other hand, require installing the app, customizing it to sign up for apps, and sometimes adding other security steps such as an authentication passcode.
  • Universal compatibility. Texting works worldwide, or at least anywhere you can access a mobile network. Apps may have certain restrictions or areas where notifications may not work.

Overall, app notifications make it easy to connect to mobile users. But in terms of person-to-person communication, texting still remains champion.

 

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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