In order to better communicate emergency information to the campus community, LSU has implemented the LSU Emergency Text Messaging System. Participation in the LSU Emergency Text Messaging System is not mandatory, but encouraged. There is no fee to subscribe, but users will still have to pay regular text messaging rates through their cellular providers.
The LSU Emergency Text Messaging System is a service that allows anyone in the LSU community, including the LSU AgCenter and Paul M. Hebert Law Center, to receive alerts, news, or other emergency information via text message on their mobile phones. Individuals will have to choose to be included in the system by providing their cell phone information through myLSU.
The LSU Emergency Text Messaging System is part of the University’s crisis communication plan, which includes numerous methods of communicating information to the campus community. In the event of an emergency, messages will be sent out from the LSU Emergency Operations Center on campus.
Emergency text messages are limited to 140 characters. This means that SMS/text messaging is less about full communication and more about alerting the user to check other, more communicative sources (Webpages, e-mail, broadcast media, etc.). It must be used in concert with other mechanisms, such as e-mail, voice mail, media notifications, Web updates, and even person-to-person/door-to-door communications.
LSU Text Messaging Process
- LSU sends the message to the text messaging vendor.
- The text messaging vendor will dispatch the message to the third-party aggregator.
- The aggregator will then distribute the messages to the cellular providers.
- The providers then process the messages and deliver them to individual subscribers.
- The message goes through towers and to the individual subscribers’ devices.
- Current “flow rates” from other universities show that we should expect about 100 messages will be delivered to subscriber phones/devices per minute.
- Cellular networks are tuned for voice services; text messaging is an ancillary function built “on the side.” So, while individual messages sent phone-to-phone may be near-instantaneous, mass-mailings “flood” the system and slow results. In short, the networks are not designed for mass “floods” of text messages.
- The more people who subscribe to the Emergency Text Messaging System, the longer the message delivery could take.
- A portion of the messages sent will fail to be accepted by the carriers; this could be approximately 3 percent of enrolled individuals who will be expecting a message, but won’t get it due to various issues beyond the control of LSU or its provider.
- The cellular providers will also have a percentage of “failures,” or messages successfully accepted by the carrier, but not processed to the end-user device. An additional 3 percent may not receive a message.
- Factors on the subscriber’s end may also impact receipt of the message: Is the phone turned on and charged? Does it have signal strength? Is text message receipt enabled? Is the user monitoring the device? Did the subscriber provide the correct number during enrollment? These factors will lead to a number of enrolled users (again, as many as an additional 3-4 percent) not actually receiving messages, or not receiving them in a timely fashion.
- Peculiarities of timing, devices and carriers may lead to “fractured” messages, such as only partial delivery of the 140 characters in the message.