MobileSphere enters emergency text-messaging space
Boston-based communications provider MobileSphere announced the expansion of its text-messaging portfolio with the Emergency Broadcast Text Messaging Solution designed to let universities, enterprises and governments share information quickly within their communities.
MobileSphere last year launched Joopz, a text-messaging service focused on the consumer market, and planned to offer an enterprise-oriented solution near the end of the second quarter, said Gavin Macomber, MobileSphere’s executive vice president of marketing. But the company decided to accelerate the release of its Emergency Broadcast Text Messaging Solution after many of its 22 university customers asked for the capability in the wake of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech University.
“I think the incident at Virginia Tech … has definitely escalated the need for emergency communications … that not only reach students’ PC [e-mail] inboxes but also their cell phones,” Macomber said.
After the incident, Virginia Tech officials noted the limited effectiveness of an e-mail blast sent to students, many of whom already had left their homes and did not have access to e-mail while in transit, Macomber said. Communicating to cell phones is more effective because most students keep their hand-held devices with them at all times.
And text messaging is the best form of communication in an emergency scenario because wireless voice systems typically are overloaded quickly near the scene — something that reportedly occurred on the Virginia Tech campus on the day of the shooting.
“Text messages take up much less bandwidth than voice calls, so they’ll typically go through when voice calls won’t go through,” Macomber said.
Through its relationship with a short message service (SMS) aggregator, MobileSphere can broadcast as many as 2000 text messages per minute, Macomber said. MobileSphere charges universities a monthly hosting fee and a per-message fee, with the overall annual cost being between $2 and $3 per student, he said.
“For a cup of Starbucks coffee per student per year, you could have an SMS solution that we manage,” Macomber said. “In the event of an emergency, the university can come in and make sure their students receive a message as quickly as possible.”