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January 29, 2013

Southern Wesleyan University Uses CallFire's Emergency SMS Notification System To Keep Students Safe

By Calvin Azuri, TMCnet Contributor

Southern Wesleyan University recently announced the introduction of "Emergency SMS Notifications," a campus-wide text messaging system from CallFire, experts in cloud telephony. The system has been designed to make sending of potentially life-saving messages during times of crisis easy and affordable for students. All of this was done by CallFire for less than $100.

SWU is located in the tornado-prone southeast which gets hit by close to a dozen tornadoes each year. To ensure reliable communication with its students, faculty and staff during times of crisis, the university wanted an immediate, affordable, and easy communication solution.  

In addition to sending notifications to the SWU community about weather emergencies, the new system has been designed to send notifications to students and staff about any kind of emergency. CallFire currently coordinates with a number of states and municipalities to manage emergency notifications. 

In a statement, Dr. Joseph Brockinton, SWU’s Vice President for Student Life, said that, "CallFire was great to work with. The new system has helped us keep our costs down while providing us with the exact service we need to communicate quickly with our campus community. We are grateful for the company’s cooperation and performance."

During 2011 when a number of tornado threats were raised, SWU sent out around five notices successful. More than half of the university’s entire population including students, faculty, and staff have already opted to receive emergency messages. This number continues to grow based on the proven effectiveness of the system.

While developing the system, CallFire created a unique keyword solution. Initially SWU spread the word about the new SMS service to students and staff through emails, a weekly e-news publication and during weekly chapel services. Those who wanted to opt-in were then asked to send a keyword text to a short code which also included an option for unsubscribing at any time. Post this, new subscribers were sent a "congratulations" feedback message which confirmed their subscription.  

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Edited by Ashley Caputo

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