Video: Maroon Alert System May Have Flaws

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)-Colleges, school districts and emergency management agencies all are starting to use text messages and emails to alert people about dangerous situations. But a series of text messages sent this weekend by Mississippi State University shows the systems still have some flaws. When it comes to dangerous situations on the campus of Mississippi State University, many rely on the Maroon Alert to keep them informed.

“The maroon alert system is how we communicate with our faculty, staff and students in case of any type of crisis on the campus,” says Sid Salter.

Depending on the time of day, the Maroon Alerts come in emails, text messages, and even Twitter and Facebook. When shots were reported being fired near the campus early Saturday morning, the university’s system went into action.

“This event happened at about one o’clock in the morning when most people were we would be reaching would be inside and asleep. We decided to go with text message because that’s the way of getting people’s attention and we try to drive them to the university website so that they can follow the incident on the page dedicated to maroon alert information,” says Salter.

The university sent three text messages with updated information. Unfortunately, many state students only received one OR none. Brad McMullan, the President and CEO of bfac.com says issues can occur when text messages like the maroon alerts are sent in short code.

“The most important thing that a university a school and an association can do in an emergency situation is to be able to communicate with the students. Unfortunately, with short code sometimes the message they are sending out can be delayed by two, three, even four hours and that is bad news. But with a long code an 10-digit number when they are sending out a message it can go a whole lot faster,” says Brad McMullan.

It’s a problem industry experts say is being worked on. And It is still unclear why some students did not receive all their alerts. But Salter stresses the safety of students, faculty, and staff are the number one priority.

If you would like to learn more about Maroon Alerts just log onto http://www.emergency.msstate.edu/

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  • HK Smith

    This is shoddy journalism at best. BFAC is a competitor to who Miss. State University uses for their Maroon Alert System, so calling a competitor to get info, without researching the facts, is just another example of the media taking the easy way out.

    The information in the article is factually incorrect. BFAC only provides long-code for one reason and one reason only – not because if is better, but because it is cheaper. A simple Googling of “difference between long code and short code SMS” would’ve provided you with the following information, on MANY websites (not on BFAC’s, though, as they want you to believe the myth they are selling).

    The information I’ve provided comes from a company that offers BOTH long and short code options, not just long code, as BFAC does. In this information, it distinctly says that long-code SMS is ONLY meant for person-to-person texting, not mass texting. Long codes that are sending mass texting can easily (and often ARE) blacklisted for spam because they are not intended for mass usage, where short codes are not blacklisted as much because mass text is their sole purpose.

    Anyway, I’ll let you guys read this, then RESEARCH it (I know that is a foreign concept to you) with other companies that do both. This article is wrong, plain and simple. The use of short code had nothing to do with people not getting the messages. That is simply a company that is stating their strategic company policy (using the cheapest method possible) and stating it as fact when it obviously isn’t. I can’t believe you allowed that. You might want to charge them for advertising, because that is about all that was. Here is info readily available on the internet from multiple sites:

    What are the key differences between short codes and long codes?

    There are a number of important factors in choosing between long codes and short codes. Long codes are standard phone numbers, such as 1 (213) 221-2289. Short codes are the much smaller, five- to six-digit numbers that you typically see used in marketing and promotions: For instance, “Text A to 55444 to get a discount on your next order.” The key distinction between the two is that long codes are intended as a person-to-person communication tool, whereas short codes allow for the bulk messaging that is typical of marketing and emergency notification campaigns. A business can receive text messages to their long code, but a high volume of SMS to or from a single phone number may trigger carriers’ spam filters and blacklist your long code.

    Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:

    Pricing.
    Long codes can be significantly less expensive than short codes. A standard long code usually costs between 1 to 2 dollars and between 2 to 5 cents to transmit text messages. Short code pricing varies depending on whether it is a shared code, where a number of brands share the number, or a unique dedicated short code. Shared short codes allow businesses to purchase a keyword, which act as a reception mechanism for a business’s SMS text traffic. These keywords range from 15 to 30 dollars a month. Purchasing a unique short code for a business or app, however, can be quite costly. The average price for a random short code is $3,000 per month and $4,500 for a vanity short code. Long codes are significantly more affordable than short codes because they are not intended to transmit a large volume of SMS text messages.

    Application.
    Long codes have content restrictions that allow carriers to block traffic. Long codes are strictly intended for person-to-person interaction. Significant traffic to a long code will risk having the application blocked. Short codes, on the other hand, are open to high-volume traffic applications.

    Features.
    Long codes have the same abilities as any 10-digit number — send and receive SMS text messages, fax and voice. Short codes, on the other hand, do not have the ability to send or receive voice or fax. Instead, they are used as a tool to send and receive high-volume text messages.

    Output Restrictions.
    Long codes are restricted by the carriers to one message per second (60 messages per minute) per originating phone number. This cannot be increased. Short codes can send up to 40 messages per second (2,400 per minute). Duplicate messages sent within one minute will also be filtered, for both long codes and short codes. A “duplicate message” is defined as the same to, from and message/body.

    So, there you have it. You might want to do a little more research before going with a story that is this inaccurate.