Emergency Notification and Texting

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dmaynes
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Emergency Notification and Texting

Postby dmaynes » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:22 pm

I'm not sure if this is the right place for this thread, but it seems as good as any other place.

If LUWS stored cell phone numbers for each person who had a cell phone, an interface on LUWS could allow for quick broadcasts via text message to those cell phones.

I think that the ability to broadcast text messages, especially for emergency notification or for the ubiquitous reminder (e.g., Stake General Priesthood Meeting) would be a big plus in some specific situations.

Text messages don't require that a recipient answer the phone. A short message is viewable as soon as the recipient powers up the phone. Text messages have all the characteristics that you would want and need for emergency notifications and for ubiquitous reminders.

How hard would this be to create? Do any of you think this is a good idea? Or, is this just a hare-brained scheme? Has this idea already been proposed? (I searched the forum for twitter and didn't see anything like this.)

Thanks,
Dennis

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:53 pm

I think the general idea has been floated before, but hasn't received traction. The biggest issue seems to be reluctance to record individual cell phones, either in MLS or LUWS. Until that's overcome, I don't see this as going anywhere.
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jeffvand
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Postby jeffvand » Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:12 am

dmaynes wrote:
I think that the ability to broadcast text messages, especially for emergency notification or for the ubiquitous reminder (e.g., Stake General Priesthood Meeting) would be a big plus in some specific situations.


This sounds like a fantastic idea to me! It could be set up on an opt-in basis. I know many, many folks would like this type of functionality... especially leaders of youth!

I did some research into SMS texting a while back for my job and the big drawback is getting a SMS number to text from. It was absurdly expensive (like $30K a month or something like that). Now granted, this was a couple of years ago and there are a lot of free services out there that offer SMS as part of the software (Read: Google Voice), so maybe the prices have come down, or maybe we could tie into one of these online services.

techgy
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Postby techgy » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:11 am

Depending upon the type of emergency a cell phone may not be useable. In California our biggest concern here are earthquakes. Quite often immediately following an earthquake the phone lines (and cell phone services) are so swamped with calls that they are often overloaded and when this happens getting a cell phone to work takes some time.

I will admit that there are certainly situations where emergency notification would be helpful for advance notice, but for the church to embrace it there would have to be an overall benefit at a reasonable cost.

However, it is an interesting idea.
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dmaynes
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Postby dmaynes » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:34 am

RussellHltn wrote:I think the general idea has been floated before, but hasn't received traction. The biggest issue seems to be reluctance to record individual cell phones, either in MLS or LUWS. Until that's overcome, I don't see this as going anywhere.


I did a search after the fact and found this thread where the topic had been discussed previously.

http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?t=522&highlight=sms+text+messaging

Do you know if it is it against policy to create an address book in a dedicated e-mail account for this purpose (if the members agree, of course)?

I found e-mail formats for the major providers on a tutorial site:


Note phonenumber is the 10-digit phone number


Virgin Mobile: phonenumber@vmobl.com
Cingular: phonenumber@cingularme.com
Sprint: phonenumber@messaging.sprintpcs.com
Verizon: phonenumber@vtext.com
Nextel: phonenumber@messaging.nextel.com
T-Mobile: phonenumber@tmomail.net
US Cellular: phonenumber@email.uscc.net[email="phonenumber@email.uscc.net"][/email]
SunCom: phonenumber@tms.suncom.com
Powertel: phonenumber@ptel.net
AT&T: phonenumber@txt.att.net
Alltel: phonenumber@message.alltel.com
Metro PCS: phonenumber@MyMetroPcs.com

techgy
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Postby techgy » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:42 am

You might wish to review the Letters and Policies area of the Church Tech web site.
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dmaynes
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Postby dmaynes » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:49 am

Techgy wrote:Depending upon the type of emergency a cell phone may not be useable. In California our biggest concern here are earthquakes. Quite often immediately following an earthquake the phone lines (and cell phone services) are so swamped with calls that they are often overloaded and when this happens getting a cell phone to work takes some time.

I will admit that there are certainly situations where emergency notification would be helpful for advance notice, but for the church to embrace it there would have to be an overall benefit at a reasonable cost.

However, it is an interesting idea.


You're right. Cell phones are not dependable in natural disasters. But, excluding those extreme situations, text messaging could be useful for 95% of all emergencies. By itself, that seems like an excellent reason to press forward with the idea.

In the past, our stake has held two sessions of stake conference, because we had 12 wards in the stake. But, a stake boundary change required shifting the assigned time for some of the wards only a week before the stake conference. Any ward member not attending sacrament meeting the week before was likely to not know about the time change. Admittedly, attending the other session would be ok. But, our bishop was scrambling to "get the word out." The text message would be another way to reach people.

I can also think of situations at a personal level where it would be extremely useful for the bishop, quorum leaders, or the Relief Society president to send a text message to a ward member.

The value of the text message is:
1- It's like e-mail and does not require someone on the other end answering the phone.
2- A short, simple message can be conveyed.
3- If the phone is on, an instant notification is available.
4- Some people, especially teens, only text. They never answer phones.

dmaynes
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Postby dmaynes » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:06 am

Techgy wrote:You might wish to review the Letters and Policies area of the Church Tech web site.


Thank you for posting the link. The policy concerning e-mail groups and networks (mentioned in Authorized Church Websites) is the one that I was wondering about.

There is either an ambiguity or an inconsistency in the policy because it states that no e-mail networks or groups except those sponsored by the Church are approved. In the current scenario, it is very rare that any member enrolled for LUWS has an e-mail account on a church server. In fact, when you create the LDS Account, you are encouraged to create an e-mail account with a free service (not provided by the Church). Thus, the e-mail network and group that consists of the members enrolled into LUWS is not completely hosted by the Church.

I have wanted to adhere strictly to the e-mail restriction, but in my enrollment efforts I need to reach out to members that are not registered in LUWS. As a result, their e-mail addresses are stored in the address book of the account that I created for managing and administering the ward website. I wonder if I have violated the policy, even though I am using a secure account and the account is only used for the purpose of maintaining the website.

The step for doing the same thing with e-mail addresses that can be used to send SMS/Text to cell phones is very small.

techgy
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Postby techgy » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:46 am

The question regarding clarification of the mentioned policy letter has come up in prior posts. Unfortunately all I can do here in the forum is refer you to the post. You are going to have to discuss the policy with your local leaders (Bishop/Stake Pres) and come to an understanding as to how you proceed.

I cannot advise you further as I do not have that authority.
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jeromer7
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Postby jeromer7 » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:32 am

dmaynes wrote:Any ward member not attending sacrament meeting the week before was likely to not know about the time change. Admittedly, attending the other session would be ok. But, our bishop was scrambling to "get the word out." The text message would be another way to reach people.

Well, another way to reach some people. Addmittedly the group is getting smaller, but there are still a lot of us out here that don't pay for texting service.

This is not a vote against the idea presented above, just a reality check that texting will not get you blanket coverage anymore than sending an e-mail would (yes, there are still people around that don't have e-mail either).
JLR


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