November 14, 2008
Cities, Schools & States Send Over 87 Million Blackboard Connect Messages During Hurricane Season
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Blackboard Inc. , a leading provider of educational enterprise technology, announced today that cities, schools and states nationwide successfully used the Blackboard Connect platform to send over 87 million messages to residents, students, parents and staff during the height of the 2008 hurricane season --- from August 15 through October 15 --- marking an unprecedented level of outreach during such a limited period of time.
In addition to standard outreach coinciding with the busy back-to-school period, safety officials used the Connect platform to communicate with residents, parents, students and staff affected by hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, Ike and Tropical Storm Fay. Officials sent a variety of time sensitive messages including alerts and updates for evacuations, school and road closures, activity schedule changes, and volunteer programs. Officials also used the platform to communicate through voice and text messages, enabling them to mobilize staff and let their communities know when it was safe to return.
"The 2008 hurricane season marks the largest number of messages sent via the Connect platform and we are pleased to have been able to help cities, schools and states successfully communicate with their constituents throughout the season," said Thomas Motter, President and Chief Operating Officer, Blackboard Connect. "Quick, efficient and accurate communication is critical when it comes to public safety and Blackboard Connect's clients did an excellent job notifying, updating and providing direction to their communities in a timely manner."
The Connect platform can be used to reach thousands of recipients through home phones, cell phones, text messages and e-mails, and is used by federal agencies and military organizations in addition to state and local governments, K-12 schools and districts and higher education institutions.
"Connect-GOV(R) allowed us to quickly contact thousands of residents who could have been affected by Hurricane Gustav," said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack. "Governor Haley Barbour was able to remind people to be prepared as the hurricane approached the Gulf Coast."
The Connect platform requires no additional hardware, and can be used from any telephone or computer with Internet access, allowing officials to send time sensitive messages from wherever they are located. After the messages are sent, officials receive reports listing which contacts did not receive the message, enabling them to resend the message or follow up through an alternative means of communication.
"Parents and staff were so thankful to receive the messages that the district sent during the hurricanes," said Houston Independent School District Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra. "For some, it was the only communication they were receiving due to loss of electrical power or being evacuated and it was comforting to have this information sent to them over the phone and through text messages. Because the Connect-ED(R) service allows the district to send unlimited messages, we were able to update our faculty and parents on a regular basis, keeping them connected to what the district was facing during the storm and then helping everyone get back on schedule throughout recovery."
To ensure that important messages reach residents, students and parents quickly, regardless of their location or preferred method of communication, the Connect systems send voice and text messages through four different modes of communication:
-- Voice messages to home phones, work phones, cell phones and e-mail addresses; -- Text messages to cell phones, PDAs, networked digital signage and other text-based devices; -- Text messages to e-mail accounts; and -- Messages to TTY/TDD receiving devices for the hearing impaired.
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About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard's solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
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