Emergency alerts are designed to, well, alert users in the case of an emergency. Whereas, conversational texts are designed to facilitate staff to students communication; resulting in better outcomes.
Texting is just one medium used by emergency alert platforms. Other mediums include voice, email, digital signage, website, social media, desktop alerts, sirens and more. It’s an absolute imperative that students receive proper warning of emergencies, i.e. fires and road closings. While this software is necessary for the safety and wellbeing of your campus, emergency alert systems a poor medium for general campus communication.
A text messaging platform allows relevant staff members to communicate with students for non-emergency reasons. It’s used to make students aware of deadlines, events, and information. Also, messaging platforms facilitate genuine conversations between staff and students.
At Mongoose, we believe that your institution needs both an EAS and a messaging platform, and what follows is an in-depth look at why.
Short codes vs. long codes
Emergency alert systems use short codes. These 5 or 6 digit, high-throughput numbers send and receive messages with large volumes of users. With short codes, notifications are sent extremely quickly, reaching hundreds of contacts in seconds. This speed comes with a price as short codes are more expensive to transmit. Despite the fact that short codes can contain pertinent information, students are often much less engaged with a short code message.
People are more apt to respond and engage with an actual phone number (long code). When a student looks at his or her phone and sees a short code message, they know that the message was sent from a software system to a large group of people. A long code message gives the immediate impression that it was sent by a human being.
If you use an emergency alert system for non-emergency messages, it could diminish urgency in your student base when actual emergencies occur. A student conditioned to dismiss short code messages for event reminders and registration deadlines will not immediately heed an alert for a fire or an active shooter on campus. In such instances where every second counts - proper attention might not be given.
Also, when an emergency alert system is installed, the phone numbers imported are from a large, general list. It’s inefficient and, without the ability to adjust contacts and preferences, many of your students could miss out on important information.
Unlike an emergency alert system, a messaging platform can integrate with department-level as well as enterprise-level systems sharing contact data between your SIS or CRM and the platform. A messaging platform like Cadence is specifically designed so it cannot be used for emergency alerts. In fact, our license agreement prohibits the use of emergency alerts.
IT professionals receive countless requests for software and equipment upgrades, and most of these requests come without regard to IT requirements and priorities. Cadence takes the burden off your IT department. We handle the end-user support. We provide the software and it's 100% cloud-based, so there's no need for IT to manage it. While we put the power of texting into the hands of your school departments, your role is minimal.
Why should a school invest and support two messaging systems?
At first glance, it seems irresponsible to direct school funds to two different messaging systems. Especially when your department has to support the software, creating twice the work for IT. A text messaging platform is not a duplicate service, though. An emergency alert system doesn’t replace your phone system and similarly should not negate the need for a text messaging platform.
Decreased communication = decreased net revenue
There is a legitimate communications crisis on campuses across the country. Schools can’t get in touch with students, much less engage with them. This is causing reduced enrollment, an increase in summer melt, lower graduation rates, and ever decreasing engagement with alumni and donors. All of this results in a decrease in revenue.
Messaging platforms allow you to actually reach students, on their terms. Every department member who needs to can text students with ease. They don’t have to bother the IT department. Text message platforms put communication power into the hands of staff and take away the burden from IT.
The questions come our way, not yours
When departments have questions or need support related to texting, they reach out to Mongoose, and we are quick to help. In fact, we handle all end-user support from troubleshooting to best practices.
The impact of the engagement made possible by a messaging platform makes it a worthwhile investment. We promise the ability to reach your key constituents, and we’ll be there to support you through the process.
To get started, download our free non-emergency Text Messaging Policy Template for your campus.