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Baylor College of Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions

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Review the below frequently asked questions to learn more about the Emergency Notification System.

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How does the Emergency Notification System work?

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The Emergency Notification System combines the power of the Internet with the pervasiveness of the telephone to give users an affordable and easy-to-use tool to reach out to their communities. Users record a voice message in their own voice using just a telephone or type a message to be sent to text receiving devices. In all, the multi-modal service helps officials reach out to students and staff via:

  • Voice messages to home, work, and cell phones
  • Text messages to cell phones, PDAs and other text-based devices
  • Written messages to e-mail accounts
  • Messages to TTY/TDD receiving devices for the hearing impaired
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How many campuses are using the service?

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Over 150 campuses are using this system to send messages to 1 million students and staff. Campuses currently using the it include Georgia Tech, Princeton, Tulane, University of Notre Dame, Caltech, Williams College, University of Iowa, University of Hawaii, University of Oklahoma, Baylor University, and Wesleyan.

Additionally, over 14,000 sites nationwide are using one of Blackboard's Connect services to reach 9 million recipients.

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What is multi-modal communication? Are text messages alone sufficient?

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With the Emergency Notification System, campus officials can reach their community members in their own voice (by landlines, cell phones, and e-mail) and via text messages (to cell phones, PDAs/other text-receiving devices, e-mail accounts, and TTY/TDD receiving devices for the hearing impaired).

During a time-sensitive situation, multi-modal communication is critical as it is a more comprehensive way to reach people in the environment they may be in at the moment an issue arises. Communication is sent simultaneously to all available contact points for each person.

Relying on any single way to reach constituents (whether it is through just voice calls or just SMS) introduces a single point of failure. Additionally, text messaging to cell phones, while a great back-up communication medium, is not stable enough to rely upon for time-sensitive communication. Cellular carriers did not design SMS (Short Messaging Service) as a reliable medium for transmitting high volume, time-sensitive communication within geo-centric communities (such as a college campus). As with any communication vehicle, it is important to combine voice, text-messaging, and e-mail to better ensure that you can reach your community in as many ways as possible.

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How has the Emergency Notification System been used?

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The Emergency Notification System has been used to communicate vital information when a critical situation has taken place. It is also used to issue alerts to campus members as outlined in the Clery Act.

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What if an emergency occurs and the school can't access the Internet to send a message?

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Each user is given a personal, wallet-sized Emergency Messaging card. In case of an evacuation or power loss, school administrators can use the information on this card to send a time-sensitive notification to all their contacts or to a pre-determined emergency response team using just a telephone. Blackboard maintains client care representatives to assist users 24/7/365 should alternative means be necessary, as occurred during both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma.

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Does the Emergency Notification System require any additional equipment?

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No. The only thing needed is an Internet connection, a browser that meets or exceeds Internet Explorer 5.5 or Netscape 7.0, and a telephone. Schools don't have to buy or maintain any special equipment, have special phone lines installed, or install any software applications or plug-ins. Blackboard provides training, which typically takes less than 30 minutes, a detailed step-by-step user guide for reference, and uses industry-standard file types to interface with school data systems so they will be able to get up-and-running immediately.

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How does the Emergency Notification System get access to student and staff contact information?

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Blackboard provides an encrypted, online process to securely import a school's existing data into that school's account in a secure and reliable manner. The school maintains all data. They have full ownership over that data. Blackboard also provides a system that allows schools to schedule automatic updates as frequently as they like, and/or they can add, remove, and delete individual contacts at their convenience.

Additionally, students and staff are encouraged to ensure that their contact information is up-to-date so that the school can contact them should an issue occur.

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Does Blackboard share the school's information with anyone?

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No. Blackboard does not sell, lease, share, or rent personally identifiable information (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) to any companies or persons outside of Blackboard or Blackboard service providers.

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How can the Emergency Notification System reach thousands in minutes?

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Blackboard's mass notification engine supports the Emergency Notification System. Blackboard maintains access to tens of thousands of phone lines originating from multiple locations throughout the United States to ensure that its clients' communications are delivered quickly and efficiently. Moreover, Blackboard employs sophisticated call throttling logic to identify the proper schematics needed to deliver calls based upon whatever congestion the local telecommunications providers are experiencing at the moment calls are being attempted. This is a crucial point of differentiation versus both auto-dialers and other ASP/Software as a Service competitors who lack experience delivering time-based mass notifications.

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How do I opt-in to receive text messages from my institution?

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You can opt-in by providing a text-enabled phone number via the self-service web portal.

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How do I opt-in to receive text messages from my institution?

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You can opt-in by providing a text-enabled phone number via the self-service web portal.

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What happens after I sign up (opt-in) for text messaging via the web portal?

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After you sign up online, the Emergency Notification System will automatically send a text message to your mobile phone to confirm your request. This occurs during business hours between 10 a.m. – 6.p.m.

The confirmation message will read the following:

[AbbrevName]: You are now confirmed to receive alerts from us. More info text reply "HELP" or "STOP [Account Code]" to opt-out.

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From what number will these text messages display?

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You will see 23177 as the text messaging number sending you the confirmation message and all subsequent messages. Please save this number and program it as Baylor College of Medicine ENS so you can quickly recognize this number as the official source of BCM messages.

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If I did not receive a confirmation message, what happened?

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Please check with your mobile phone provider to find out if your device accepts text messages. You may also want to check with your provider to see if text messaging has been enabled. You may need to subscribe to a text messaging plan to receive or reply to text messages.

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How do I opt-out?

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You may opt-out at any time by texting "STOP [Account Code]" or "QUIT [Account Code]" to 23177.

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What if I opted-out but later decide I would like to opt-in again?

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You may request to begin receiving text messages by texting "SUBSCRIBE [Account Code]" to 23177.

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If I change mobile phone providers but keep the same number, do I need to opt-in again?

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No. Once your phone number has been opted-in, it stays registered within the system.