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Rave Mobile Safety

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When events happen that can put lives at risk, time is of the essence. The ability to immediately alert those potentially in harm?s way becomes of paramount importance. Rave Mobile Safety leverages the ubiquity of mobile phones to provide an instant notification system for its customers. Rave?s software-as-a-service (SaaS) allows organizations, universities and municipalities to send alerts faster, decreasing the likelihood of harm, and serving to reduce crime. Acting as a virtual guardian, Rave Mobile Safety protects employees, students and citizens from harm. The common goal, as set forth by the company?s founders, is to protect the lives of its customers? constituents through their mobile phones.

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Protecting Lives Through Mobile Phones
With the tragedies that have occurred on college campuses in recent years, such as those at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois, it has become paramount for colleges to obtain the ability to communicate immediately with students and others on campus as well as with parents of students.

To meet this important need, Rave Mobile Safety has developed a set of applications that improve campus safety by allowing college administrators to communicate quickly with students in a variety of ways including text messaging, e-mail and voice mail. If an emergency or dangerous situation suddenly occurs on a college campus, Rave Alert, the Rave Mobile Safety flagship product, allows administrators to rapidly notify all constituents including students, faculty, public safety personnel and administration, as well as parents of students.

The key communication methodology within Rave Alert is text messaging, which is the preferred method of college students and which is transmitted to mobile devices that students typically have with them at all times. But any other communication medium can also be used to alert faculty, staff and parents including voice mail, e-mail, RSS feeds, Twitter posts and digital signage on campus, as directed by the recipient's preference.

Because of these tragic events, administrators and safety personnel now realize the need to communicate quickly in the event that something happens that could put students in danger. Effective communication can help those on campus find safe places and avoid danger zones. Effective communication can also clearly convey exactly what is occurring so that students, staff and their families know exactly what is going on. In addition to helping those on campus know where to go to be safe, effective communication can also help prevent panic situations that sometime occur when people have incorrect information or do not have any information at all. 

Rave Alert also helps colleges communicate more effectively in non-emergency situations, such as when classes are cancelled. Students generally don't read e-mail consistently and often fail to check voice mails. The only way to consistently communicate quickly with students is through cell phone text messaging. For other campus constituents, college administration, professors, staff and parents of students, Rave Alert also allows for e-mail and voice mail communication, which tend to be effective with these constituent groups. Each end-user recipient has the option of determining how they want to receive alerts, and they can choose to receive alerts via multiple communication methodologies. When it comes to students, the college administration can also establish required communication protocols to ensure messages are received.

Rave Alert integrates with the various data systems of colleges, including their main contact directory, learning management systems (LMS) and student information systems (SIS) so that current student contact information remains up-to-date. By connecting to all of these systems, administrators can rely on Rave Alert to not only provide the ability to communicate during emergencies, but also to communicate on class updates and student account updates. The system also tracks whether messages have been received by providing delivery confirmation so that the administration knows if key information has been delivered.

Communication is Key
Rave Mobile Safety's Rave Alert solution relies on technology to allow colleges to quickly and correctly communicate with students and staff. Key technology components are the application program interfaces (API) that Rave Mobile Safety created to allow Rave Alert to integrate with college databases. This includes the directory of student and staff contact information as well as learning management systems (LMS) used by professors and student information systems (SIS) used by bursars and registrars to communicate information such as bills, course updates and other student account information.

Rave Mobile Safety APIs automatically receive updates from all of these systems so that information remains current. The APIs also make it possible for LMS and SIS message originators to generate student communication without taking extra steps. A professor can submit an entry to a Web LMS, and Rave Alert automatically converts the information into a text message or e-mail that can be sent to students. If someone at the bursar's office makes a change to a student tuition bill, Rave Alert automatically sends a text or e-mail message so the student is aware a change has occurred.

Rave Mobile Safety also created an Internet portal for Rave Alert that gives message originators and message recipients the flexibility to create and receive messages in the manner that is easiest for each individual person. Students can designate whether they want to receive messages via e-mail, text or voice mail while taking into consideration any requirements the college may enforce.

Another key technology component of Rave Alert is the ability to distribute as many as 50,000 text messages within minutes, especially in the case of an emergency or dangerous situation. For this capability, Rave Alert relies on Sybase 365 SMS Alert and MMS Alert, which are both content-delivery gateways. SMS (Short Message Service) allows Rave Alert to quickly deliver text messages while MMS (Multi-Media Service) allows for the delivery of graphics, audio, video and photos.

Both content-delivery gateways operate on a Sybase 365 mobile content delivery database, which is ideal for an application like Rave Alert that needs to distribute messages to large audiences. Sybase 365 also allows Rave Alert to confirm message delivery, which is a critical attribute since it allows colleges to know if students have received emergency messages. Sybase 365 also records responses from students and aggregates replies so that college administrators can send follow-up messages to anyone who does not respond to the initial message.

Rave Mobile Safety also relies on a multi-modal alert engine that allows Rave Alert to rapidly notify individuals via land-lines and e-mail that do not prefer text messages. Rave Mobile Safety developed a hub-and-spoke model that uses one sender interface, the Rave Alert Web portal, where administrators and safety personnel can determine in advance how to send alerts (text, voice, RSS, digital signage, audio speakers, television). Rave Alert has built-in integration with all of these communication vehicles, and can ensure other methods are used for individual that do not want text messages. 

The technology also allows each recipient to define how they want to receive messages, and the college can define who can send each type of messages to each audience. Senior administrators and safety personnel can be given the ability to send emergency information while professors and office-personnel can be given the ability to send non-emergency messages via LMS and SIS systems. The students can then customize how they want to receive each type of message. They may enable emergency messages to come via text, but they can decide to receive non-emergency messages via to e-mail, voice or RSS in accordance with the rules of the college.

Innovative Informing
Rave Alert has allowed colleges to fundamentally change the way they communicate with students during emergencies and non-emergency situations. Rave Alert has also made it easier for students to receive important communication that they might otherwise never receive.

Instead of relying on voice mail messages, which students often don't listen to, and instead of relying on e-mail messages, which often go unread, colleges can now rely on text communication. Today's college students are much more apt to receive, read and respond to text messages than they are to voice mail and e-mail. Colleges thus have the ability to immediately communicate information about campus threats as well as weather warnings, cancelled classes, event updates and student-account updates. 

In addition to helping students become aware of threats so they can move to safe locations, colleges now have the ability to keep them informed about day-to-day student issues. If a class is cancelled at the last minute, professors can tell their students before they travel to the class room. Professors can also notify students about last-minute homework changes. If a billing issue arises, the bursar can notify the student on their cell phone rather than via e-mail, where messages may go unread for a month or forever because of all the spam that students receive. If a student's status in registering for a class changes, this is also something that can be communicated by text so the student knows as quickly as possible.

The system also gives professors and administrators that are more comfortable with e-mail and Web communications another way to communicate with students. Professors can continue to enter communication updates into their LMS while college personnel can continue to input update into the college SIS, and Rave Alert automatically converts the messages into text-message format that alerts students they need to be aware of communication in their e-mail or on at an LMS site published by a professor.

Vital Notifications Keeping Users Safe
250 colleges across the United States have deployed Rave Mobile Safety solutions. An example of how the service has provided tangible benefits is how the University of South Florida reacted to a bomb scare. The administration was able to instantaneously send messages to 50,000 students and college staff. The college was also able to provide four follow-up messages to keep students informed of the status of the incident. The Rave Mobile Safety solution eventually distributed 350,000 text messages during the day of the bomb scare. 

"When we had that incident on our campus, I sent out an alert to our 50,000 registered users, and all were reached in just over 50 seconds," says Christopher Akin, the Director of IT for the University of South Florida. "The message arrived to my phone before I had taken my hand off the mouse." 

Other college administrators, safety personnel and IT staff have also lauded the Rave Mobile Safety solution and commented on the importance of text messaging. Here is a sampling of comments:

"Campus safety is an ongoing issue on college campuses across the country," says James Maddox, Interim Chief of Police, Chicago State University. "We are the first in Illinois to incorporate the breakthrough Rave Mobile Safety technology because it's important to take every possible measure to keep our students safe." 

Dr. Susan Cole, President, Montclair State University, says, "Rave Mobile Safety took the preferred communications device of the youth market (the mobile phone) and transformed it into an educational and community-building tool that will enable Montclair State to take a huge leap forward in preparing our students for productive roles in a technology-based society."

The Colorado State University associate director for telecommunications, Jose Valdes, says, "There are myriad ways to communicate with people. One way won't reach everyone. But we do think that text messaging is one of the best ways to reach students."

Jesse Ballard, Instructional Lab Manager, University of Wyoming, says, "We have been very impressed with the performance of the Rave Alert system. In the two campus-wide tests we have performed, the delivery rate of the messages has exceeded our expectations. Text notification is a great way to get information out to students in a fast and reliable manner."

Tony Iaconetti, Executive Director IT for Sussex County Community College, says, "We can't be more pleased with the Rave Alert Application. This is a significant upgrade from our previous provider in reliability, reporting, and features. We also love the fact that we have so much control in management of the application. We now have the ability to reach our base by e-mail, SMS, voice, and RSS feed."

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