More on Using Communications Suite for Emergency Notifications

With regards to my previous post, where I discussed using Messaging Server and its SMS capabilities as an emergency notification system, there have been some interesting and insightful comments on other approaches. Here is a summary of those comments.

  1. Create a directory attribute in your schema which you use to designate an email to your SMS address. Many mobile providers have such entities (for example, AAAEEENNNN@mobile.att.net). For employees with company phones, you pre-populate the emergency notification list. In addition, you could provide the capability for those you wish to notify to add themselves to the notification list through a web interface.

    In terms of best practices on the user side in LDAP (constructing or "building" email addresses using attribute values that aren't themselves directly email addresses), see the item in the JES MS 6.3 Release Notes discussing the new-in-JES-MS-6.3 LDAP_URL_RESULT_MAPPING option.dat option.

    Two downsides to this approach are:

    • You will get mixed results as each carrier will have different mechanisms for churning email to SMS: length restrictions, and so on.
    • Worse yet, if 3,000 messages from, say, campus-safety@stateu.edu arrive at a particular provider all at once, the provider could decide that the messages are spam and delete them all.
  2. Conduct advance planning to be able to put up banners on key web interfaces and web sites, indicating the emergency.
  3. Use a well-known URL to disseminate information.
  4. Use a shared IMAP folder.
  5. At the lowest level, Messaging Server could certainly broadcast email messages to the entire population. This functionality exists as a simple email mailing list.
  6. Use Instant Messaging accounts. In a university setting, you could enable students to use these IM accounts either throughout the school year or they could exist for the term of the class. Using IM enables you to maintain a single community that still allows co-existence with 3rd Party IM accounts from MSN/Yahoo/GTalk. The IM Account would also provide real-time information broadcasts on events, even providing Chat Rooms for discussions.
  7. Use integration with phone switch information. Each employee would receive "universal" telephone numbers. (Sun uses AccessLine technology.) These universal numbers would all use call routing to an employee's phone numbers: work phone, home phone, cell phone, and so on. During emergency situations, the organization could set up "automated dialers" to call out each employee to notify them of emergency situations and appropriate course of action.
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