Considering purchasing a phone notification system for your district? This guide to the most popular technologies on the market may make your decision easier.
$3-$3.60 per student per year, www.blackboardconnect.com
Connect-ED is a fully hosted, IP-based service designed specifically for the K12 market. School administrators are able to record, schedule, send, and track personalized voice messages to students, parents and staff members. The system includes a software bundle with emergency notification, survey taking, and community outreach functions. Furthermore, specific groups can be targeted within the calling database, and recipients can engage in two-way communication by responding to survey questions via their telephone keypads. Voice messages can be sent to recipients' landlines, cell phones, and e-mail accounts. Text messages can also be sent to PDAs/textbased devices, or TTT/TDD (text telephone) devices.
Pricing not available, web.cistera.com
Cistera Event Alerting and Notification Solutions is fully hosted and IPbased, and while geared toward government and business applications, it can also be used in a school environment. Cistera emphasizes overhead audio paging for notifi cation but also includes phone, text message, and two-way radio recorded broadcast capabilities via three separate applications. A fourth application, "MasterBellScheduler," can schedule automatic bell tones using WAV files of the user's choice. Cistera also offers a notification appliance as an option for an enterprise environment, "ZoneController," an installed hardware device that allows simultaneous broadcast to both phones over IP and an overhead paging system.
HONEYWELL INSTANT ALERT
$2.25-$5 per student per year, www.honeywell.com/instantalert
Honeywell Instant Alert for Schools is a Web-based, fully hosted system allowing schools to send up to 100,000 messages in 15 minutes. Users record 30-second emergency voice messages or text messages, which can be sent via land line or cell phone, pager and/or e-mail to an entire database or a specific subgroup. Instant Alert can also be used for routine, nonemergency notifications, such as meeting reminders, event notifications or truancy reporting. Per student costs include training, setup, unlimited messaging and service updates.
$2-$5 per student per year, www.k12alerts.com
K12 Alerts enables districts to send emergency messages to parents, residents and staff at a rate of up to 500,000 messages per server per hour via e-mail, text messaging and phone calls. K12 Alerts also includes a Textto-Speech tool, which interprets an administrator's typed message into a computer-generated voice message. The parent My Account online portal allows parents to quickly update their contact information and designate their preferred language of communication, as the system supports translation for several languages.
$7,000-$12,000, depending on size of facility, www.preparedresponse.com
Prepared Response's Rapid Responder is focused on providing mass notification to the first responders to an emergency, such as police and fire departments. In the event of an emergency, administrators can use Rapid Responder, via a secure Internet connection or USB storage device, to instantly provide first responders with critical school building information such as aerial views, interior and exterior photos, best access routes, floor plans, utility shut-offs, incident response plans, and family reunification locations.
Pricing not available, www.reactsystemsinc.com
Designed mostly for larger venues such as corporations, public facilities, government institutions and hospitals, REACT can also be used by large school districts. It can be either fully hosted online or operate on an enterprise client server in an installed appliance. Key features include the scalability to grow from thousands to millions of contacts, the ability to contact first responders with information and instructions, and the capability to display messages on digital signage monitors. REACT's multimodal communications system also delivers communications to cell phones, pagers, Blackberry devices, internal and external phone systems, computer desktops and other devices. REACT is also capable of routine communications in addition to emergencies.
SEND WORD NOW
Pricing not available, www.sendwordnow.com
Send Word Now's Alert Service is a fully hosted Web-based service that is capable of mass communication through the widest variety of devices and services in the industry, including not only wired and wireless phones, e-mail and instant messaging, but also pagers, SMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multimedia Message Service), VoIP, Skype, satellite phones, Blackberries and PDAs. Additional features include compatibility with enterprise software, auditing capabilities for accurate recordkeeping, compatibility with other SWN software programs, and enterprise-level encryption for security. SWN Alert Service also uses a Web-based user-friendly "dashboard" control designed for quick use in an emergency, is scalable to allow for growth, and can coordinate simultaneous events in multiple locations.
$1-$3 per student per year, www.schoolmessenger.com
SchoolMessenger provides three choices of phone and e-mail notification solutions for school district applications of various sizes. ASP Plus is fully hosted and can serve an entire district or a single school. CommSuite is an installed appliance for use in a large-scale enterprise environment. The SchoolMessenger Desktop is the smallest product, a plug-and-play device that uses existing computers and phone lines to send messages, but only in a single school. SchoolMessenger applications can be integrated with systems like Cisco and 3Com, translate into multiple languages, and interface with more than 130 data management packages. SchoolMessenger also offers 24/7/365 customer service, support and monitoring.
$2.50 per student per year, www.schoolreach.com
A fully hosted, Web-based system designed for school districts, School-Reach sends audio and text broadcasts via phone calls, text messages. and e-mails. The system is designed particularly for regular, non-emergency communications with parents and allows school administrators todeliver personalized phone or text messages to the entire contact list or to select groups. In addition, SchoolReach includes an advanced surveytaking utility, live reporting capability, and language translation. Users can also record audio messages in three ways: through a toll-free phone number, WAV file Internet upload, or via Text-to-Speech, which converts typed messages into a computer-generated voice.
About $1-$3 per student per year, www.alertnow.com
AlertNow is a fully hosted, Web-based system designed specifically for school districts. Administrators can create messages over the phone or via secure Web site and broadcast them to phones, PDAs or any Internet-enabled device at a rate of more than one million per hour. The program sends more than five million messages per month for non-emergencies and emergencies. AlertNow is the only notification system that displays "411" on parents' caller ID when the call involves an emergency. It also enhances parental involvement with its language translation and a feature that will automatically call parents when their child has an unauthorized absence.
$1.75-$3.75 per student per year, www.teleparent.net
TeleParent is a fully hosted, Web-based system that emphasizes regular calling to parents by teachers, not just administrators. Teachers log in and are able to select and send recorded calls very quickly and as often as they prefer. Messages can concern everything from unexcused absences, to praise for good behavior, to reminders about upcoming exams. Teleparent also has a strong emphasis on language translation and uses live translators of more than 170 languages. TeleParent's Emergency Calling Solution is capable of contacting the general population or specifi c groups via secure Web site or toll-free phone number. The service supports home, work and cell phones, as well as PDAs, e-mail and SMS (Short Message Service) message delivery. Features also include unlimited emergency messaging, 24/7 availability even for live language translation, and survey taking capability.
Roughly $2,400-$2,700 for 2,000 students $8,000 for, 20,000 students, www.xtremealerts.com
XtremeAlerts is a Web-based service focusing primarily on emergency notification in a business setting, but it can also be used in a district. It also provides the capability for regular, non-emergency announcements. Typed messages can be sent to cell phones, smart phones and Blackberries via SMS, through e-mail, or via a unique Desktop Notification function, which displays messages on all participating computer screens. Administrators can select certain groups or an entire population to contact, and live reporting gives administrators the ability to monitor the progress of an alert.