Temporary Opt-In to Text Message Alerts for Campus Visitors

Idea created by kevinjp on Oct 24, 2018
    Under review

    Blackboard Connect, the emergency notification system function of Blackboard, does not provide a way for campus visitors to quickly and easily opt themselves in to temporarily receive SMS text message alerts from our University. Other emergency notification systems do provide this feature; Blackboard Connect should add this feature.


    I discovered this feature when I attended a conference at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) last month. UTSA does not use Blackboard Connect as their emergency notification system, from what I can see. The conference consisted of about 250 guests to their university, all of whom where only going to be at UTSA for one weekend.


    The host welcomed all conference guests with an introductory PowerPoint. The first slide of the host's PowerPoint stated, "Text [PHONE NUMBER] the message "UTSAGuest" to receive emergency alerts from the University during your visit."


    While all conference guests sent that text message, the host pointed out where the fire exits are, told us there were no fire drills scheduled for the day so we should assume all fire alarms are real emergencies, and told us where the rally point was if we did have to evacuate. That entire safety introduction lasted about 20 seconds.


    All conference guests who sent the text message then received an immediate text message reply that said, "Welcome to UTSAGuest. Reply STOP UTSAGuest to Cancel. MSG&Data Rates May Apply, MSG Frequency Varies." and then a second text message that said, "Welcome to UTSA! You have subscribed to receive temporary alerts from UTSA should an emergency occur on campus. This registration is valid for one week."


    The host then progressed to the next page of his slide and started his scheduled presentation. We went about our conference and had a great time. We left at the end of the weekend.


    After a week had gone by, even though we did not even remember we had signed up for the alerts, we automatically received a text message that said, "Thank you for visiting UTSA. Your subscription to UTSA Alerts has expired. Go 'Runners!"


    From what I can see, UTSA does not publicize this opt-in number for visitors on their website. It appears they only give it out at the start of presentations for visitors or maybe perhaps they also publicize it in their visitors office. It appears this prevents random, unaffiliated people from opting themselves into the emergency notification system and bogging it down with unnecessary contacts.


    We would love to mirror that process for events with visitors on our campus. We do not want a lengthy process, like registering within a portal, or a process that puts additional burden on Blackboard Connect administrators, like manually adding and removing guests would be.


    When I reached out to Blackboard Connect Support to inquire about how we might do this, I was told that Blackboard Connect does not support that type of feature. The Support Technician advised me to submit a post to this community board to encourage Blackboard Connect to consider creating this feature.


    I hope Blackboard Connect will consider adding this beneficial feature to help guests of our University be in-the-know during a campus emergency.


    Thank you,


    Product Version (if applicable):0