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Blog Mini Series: Overcoming the Limitations of Using SMS for Emergency Notification

9 Minute Read

While SMS or “texting” is a popular way to communicate (especially for the 18 to 24-year-old-crowd who, on average, sends and receives 4,000 text messages per month!), it may not the best way to share important, oftentimes critical information. This is especially true in the business environment, when operations or worse, employee safety, may be at risk.

At Send Word Now, we believe SMS certainly has its place in an organization’s overall emergency notification strategy. After all, we have international testing networks and carrier/aggregator agreements in place to maximize the method’s effectiveness. However, we also believe that as a leader in the critical communications industry, it is incumbent upon us to make resiliency professionals aware of the limitations of SMS and seek possible workarounds.

After intently listening to industry professionals who have experienced particular SMS limitations, Send Word Now committed itself to creating a better alternative. That alternative is SWN Express Messenger, a standard feature within SWN Direct, a revolutionary new mobile app for urgent corporate communications and collaboration.

SWN Direct, just released June 19th and available for iPhone®, utilizes IP networking end to end for the secure delivery of voice, text and files seamless to recipient mobile phones anywhere in the world. Amazingly, users know in advance what percentage of their recipient target audience is reachable or “on-net” before they communicate, and there’s no dependency upon third-party applications (or for SMS, aggregators or gateways), that might impact successful message delivery.

Sound too good to be true? Consider the following five key problems with using SMS for emergency notification and see how SWN Express Manager – just one of the features of Send Word Now’s new groundbreaking app, SWN Direct – is a viable alternative to texting. The findings will surprise you.

Problem 1: Deliverability Issues Due to Outages or Censorship. A major barrier. SMS message delivery is not guaranteed, and there is no mechanism through which a sender can determine whether a message has actually been delivered in a timely manner. SWN Express Messenger works through a secure, encrypted connection over the Internet, not a carrier SMS gateway, meaning messages get through even when other methods fail or are blocked.

Problem 2: Poor Diagnostics. The digital path – message origination to receipt – is very complex and any number of issues can lead to delays or non-delivery. Troubleshooting and correcting problems is a difficult and highly involved process, often involving multiple, disconnected entities. With SWN Express Messenger, the communication pathway is tightly managed, and messages are sent through the network directly to the device. Problems, though rare, are easy and quick to diagnose.

Problem 3: Limited Message Payload. SMS messages are limited to a certain number of characters and concatenation (breaking them into smaller, linked pieces) is not available through all carriers or in all geographic regions. SWN Express Messenger is not SMS text messaging so it’s not subject to the same character limitations. Easily send up to 2000 characters with each alert, plus get the feedback you need for analysis, reporting and follow up.

Problem 4: A High Price to Pay. Given the cost of SMS ($0.03 to $0.12 per message for domestic delivery), large, multinational organizations with active notification programs may experience a significant budget impact. With SWN Express Messenger, you won’t sink your IT budget. Costs for SWN Express Messenger are not calculated on a per-message basis; it’s unlimited for users communicating through the app, and there are no additional fees whatsoever.

Problem 5: No Control over Message Aesthetics. With SMS, your messages are all “vanilla.” You can’t include a company logo, add illustrations and video for greater detail, or indicate alerts in bold fonts or different colors to help the recipient quickly identify the message sender, much less understand the sense of urgency. SWN Express Messenger gives you full control over message look and feel. And, because its foundation is HTML (or Rich Text), you can be assured the recipient will see it exactly as you designed. While SMS will play an ongoing role in emergency notification in the near term, these shortcomings and others will push many organizations to seek an alternative, more contemporary approach like SWN Direct, and more specifically, its SWN Express Messenger feature.

In a June 19, 2014 press release announcing the availability of SWN Direct, Send Word Now President and CEO, Tony Schmitz, said, “Our customers have told us they want an innovative mobile platform for communicating across the enterprise, and we listened. Building on our deep understanding of technology, SWN Direct delivers a revolutionary set of recipient mobile-oriented tools for voice, text and file delivery, for a much lower total operating cost than previously available.”

Want to learn more now? Download Send Word Now’s latest White Paper, Five Key Problems with Using SMS for Emergency Notification, visit our SWN Direct page, or request a demo of the all-new SWN Direct app, now available from the Apple® Store. _