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Violent tragedies have shaken American schools to recognize the critical importance of communicating instantly with students, others on campuses, and parents when such incidents occur. Rave Mobile Safety has stepped up to meet this urgent need by developing a set of software applications that gives administrators this powerful tool.
Rave Mobile Safety
Framingham, Massachusetts, USA
SAP Mobile Services
Because of the tragic events that have occurred on campuses, administrators and safety personnel now realize the need to communicate quickly in the event that something happens that could put students in danger. Effective communication can help those on campus find safe places and avoid danger zones. Effective communication can also clearly convey exactly what is occurring so that students, staff, and their families know exactly what is going on.
Rave Alert also helps colleges communicate more effectively in non-emergency situations, such as when classes are cancelled. Students generally don't read e-mail consistently and often fail to check voice mails—so the only way to consistently communicate quickly with students is through text messaging. For other campus constituents, professors, staff and parents of students, Rave Alert also allows for e-mail and voice mail communication, which tend to be most effective.
Rave Alert integrates with current data systems in colleges, including the main contact directory, learning management systems (LMS) and student information systems (SIS). Current student contact information remains up-to-date. Rave Alert connects all systems, enabling administrators to rely on Rave Alert not only to provide communication during emergencies, but also to convey class updates and student account updates. The system tracks messages and provides delivery confirmation so officials know that key information has been delivered.
Rave Mobile Safety's Rave Alert solution introduces mobile technology to the challenge of campus safety. While voice messaging and email continue to be important modes of routine contact, the media cannot deliver instant messages in an emergency situation. Rave Alert gives colleges the power to communicate almost instantly and in detail with students and staff.
Key technology components are the application program interfaces (API) that Rave Mobile Safety created to allow Rave Alert to integrate with college databases. This includes the directory of student and staff contact information, as well as learning management systems (LMS) used by professors, and student information systems (SIS) used by bursars and registrars to communicate information such as bills, course updates and other student account information.
Rave Mobile Safety APIs automatically receive updates from all of these systems so that information remains current. The APIs also make it possible for LMS and SIS message originators to generate student communication without taking extra steps. A professor can submit an entry to a Web LMS, and Rave Alert automatically converts the information into a text message or e-mail that can be sent to students. If someone at the bursar's office makes a change to a student tuition bill, Rave Alert automatically sends a text or e-mail message so the student is aware a change has occurred.
Another key technology component of Rave Alert is the ability to distribute thousands of text messages within minutes. This is critical in the case of an emergency or dangerous situation. Rave Alert relies on SAP Mobile Services handling both content-delivery gateways. SMS (Short Message Service) allows Rave Alert to quickly deliver text messages while MMS (Multi-Media Service) allows for the delivery of graphics, audio, video, and photos.
SAP Mobile Services also allows Rave Alert to confirm message delivery to a large audience, which is a critical attribute since it allows colleges to know if students have received emergency messages. SAP Mobile Services also records responses from students and aggregates replies so that college administrators can send follow-up messages to anyone who does not respond to the initial message.
The technology also allows each recipient to define how they want to receive messages, and the administrators can define who has access to send each type of message to specific audiences. Senior administrators and safety personnel can be given the ability to send emergency information, while professors and office-personnel can be given the ability to send non-emergency messages via LMS and SIS systems.
Rave Alert is allowing colleges to fundamentally change the way they communicate with students during emergencies and non-emergency situations alike, by making it easier for students to receive important communications they might otherwise have never received.
Today's college students are much more apt to receive, read, and respond to text messages than to voice mail and e-mail. Colleges thus have the ability to immediately communicate information about campus threats as well as weather warnings, cancelled classes, event updates, and student-account updates.
In addition to helping students become aware of threats so they can move to safe locations, colleges can now keep them informed about day-to-day student issues. If a class is cancelled at the last minute, professors can tell their students before they travel to the class room. Professors can also notify students about last-minute homework changes. If a billing issue arises, the bursar can notify the student on their cell phone rather than via e-mail, where messages may go unread for a month or forever because of all the spam that students receive. If a student's status in registering for a class changes, this is also be texted so the student knows as quickly as possible.
The system also gives professors and administrators that are more comfortable with e-mail and Web communications another way to communicate with students. Professors can continue to enter communication updates into their LMS while college personnel can continue to input updates into the college SIS, and Rave Alert automatically converts the messages into text-messages that alert students to check their email or professor’s sites.
Hundreds of colleges across the United States have deployed Rave Mobile Safety solutions.
But one example of how the service has provided tangible benefits is how the University of South Florida reacted to a bomb scare. The administration was able to instantaneously send messages to 50,000 students and college staff. The college was also able to provide four follow-up messages to keep students informed of the status of the incident.
The Rave Mobile Safety solution eventually distributed 350,000 text messages during the day of the bomb scare.
In addition to offering a valuable solution to colleges, Rave Mobile Safety solutions could also be extended to elementary, middle school, and high school campuses, especially since more and more students of all ages now possess cell phones. In addition to students, Rave Mobile Safety can allow K-12 schools to communicate immediately with teachers, school personnel, and parents. With parents becoming more comfortable with text messaging, this offers an effective way for schools to communicate on an emergency basis.
Texting the parents is much more effective than attempting to answer the flood of phone calls that might come into a school or town police department should an emergency situation occur. And text messages are more likely to be received faster than any other form of communication.
Compared to the college level, emergency communication at the K-12 level would have an even greater benefit in communicating with parents. Should an emergency occur at K-12 school, it would be extremely beneficial for parents to receive notification and status updates as to what is taking place at the school.
Rave Mobile Safety solutions can also be extended to corporations, particularly those with campus properties consisting of multiple buildings and thousands of employees. At any time an emergency occurs or during non-emergency situations when the company still needs to communicate information quickly, having the ability to send text messages gives the company more choices on how to communicate.