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E-TXT: A Reality Check Brian Voss, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology & CIO Sheri Thompson, IT Planning & Communications Officer Copyright Sheri.

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Presentation on theme: "E-TXT: A Reality Check Brian Voss, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology & CIO Sheri Thompson, IT Planning & Communications Officer Copyright Sheri."— Presentation transcript:

1 E-TXT: A Reality Check Brian Voss, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology & CIO Sheri Thompson, IT Planning & Communications Officer Copyright Sheri J. Thompson, This work is the intellectual property of the author. Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the author. To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the author. EDUCAUSE Enterprise Conference May 28, 2008

2 LSU at a Glance

3 28,000 students 6,000 on campus* 5,000 employees LSU at a Glance

4 Out of Tragedy Phone calls from vendors Public call to action – Criticism of officials for notifying the students with too little information, too late — and via . Universities respond

5 Your Views What was your campus like in the wake of the VT tragedy? What was your campus like in the wake of the VT tragedy? How did your college respond? How did your college respond? Did you already have an emergency communications plan? Did you already have an emergency communications plan? Did you already use text messaging? Did you already use text messaging? Was there pressure to have something in place quickly? Was there pressure to have something in place quickly? What role did central IT play? What role did central IT play?

6 SMS Solution Text messages = panacea Solve all emergency communications issues Texts are instantaneous and everyone uses them

7 The Illusion of Speed “text messages are delivered fast; unlike , thousands of messages can be transmitted within a few minutes.” Time magazine article (August 2007)

8 LSU-EOC LSU sends broadcast emergency text message to ClearTXT ClearTXT ClearTXT receives emergency message and forwards to 3rd party aggregator Aggregator Aggregator duplicates messages and sends to all carriers with registered user Centralized SMS Center Each carrier receives the message and forwards to towers with registered users attached Tower The message is processed through the tower and sent to the user's mobile device Mobile Device Each phone belonging to a registered user receives the emergency message in its SMS Inbox

9 Reality Texting is not instantaneous, ubiquitous, pervasive Valuable but limited tool

10 Tech Notes Tower limitations (LSU has 8) 10 messages per second Character limitations (by carrier and by e-txt provider)

11 Decision Makers LSU Emergency Operations Center LSU Public Safety LSU Public Affairs LSU Chancellor LSU Information Technology Services LSU Student Life & Academic Services

12 Your Views Does your campus have an EOC? Does your campus have an EOC? Who is involved? Is IT at the table? Who is involved? Is IT at the table? How was it developed? How was it developed? Has it been used? Has it been used?

13 LSU Tragedy Double homicide 12/13/2007 LSU EOC communications tools deployed Problem with e-txt system uncovered

14 Scheduled Test = January 18 Set expectations – Based on discussions with peers and vendor LSU Tests E-Txt

15 Research from peers Pre-test with small group Merger related issue uncovered Work with carriers and vendor Communications (external/internal) Planning

16 Vendor process under 20 minutes 95% of non-failing messages delivered in <2hrs Total undelivered <10% Self-reported problems <10% LSU Expectations

17 Fairly heavy press coverage 16 different carriers Majority AT&T/Cingular; Sprint, Verizon Leading up to the Test

18 Other Aspects All of the little cell phone providers out there are not always accessible to the emergency vendor. Over 25 crowd and SMS.

19 Our Test Text Message TEST LSU EMERGENCY TEST – This is a test of the LSU Emergency Text Messaging System. No emergency exists. This is a test.

20 The Test Launched at 9:00:35 AM CST 13,657 messages 9:17:22 AM CST 16min 47sec for dispatch 9:19AM last user in queue received message

21 Test Cont. Vendor reported 18 messages rejected by Aggregator Aggregator feedback from Carriers= 659 failed messages Total 677 undelivered = 95.04% success rate

22 Results Message flow rate: 889/min 221 self-reported problems – Error in sign up – No SMS plan

23 User Issues First, cell users tend to hop carriers but keep their numbers. The emergency notification client needs to match numbers to carrier, so the individuals signed up for the service need to update their carrier in the system whenever this changes. Folks think they have SMS when they do not.

24 Your Views Have you tested your emergency text messaging system? Were the outcomes what you expected? Were their any surprises? Who decides when/if/how to test?

25 SMS Technology Matters When choosing a vendor: SMS/SMPP Push time Customer relations Responsive to advances in IT Carrier relations

26 Need for Speed Pipes & priorities # of aggregators priority agreements Price Point

27 Need for balance # subscribers message distribution time

28 Only 1 Tool in the Box Web site Media outlets Word of mouth Phone SMS Display Screens Other

29 Your Views What communications resources does your institution use? What communications resources does your institution use? What are you using that you feel is most effective? What are you using that you feel is most effective? What is missing from the list? What is missing from the list? What is next? What is next?

30 LSU E-Txt Today Over 16K subscribers and rising Comprehensive safety campaign ITS Communications Periodic automated reminders

31 New Registrations over Time

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35 Your Views How do you encourage participation? How do you encourage participation? How have you been successful? How have you been successful? What simply does not work? What simply does not work? Do you require or just recommend? Do you require or just recommend? Who makes these decisions? Who makes these decisions?

36 Other Resources Dewitt Latimer, “Text Messaging as Emergency Communications Superstar? Nt so gr8.” EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 43, no. 3 (May/June 2008):84-85 EDUCAUSE Emergency Communications Constituent Group

37 Questions?


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