News

Callmy – the new release!

We are delighted to release the latest version of Callmy, which introduces some important new features and customer benefits.

These included a new text message capability and an on-line management portal.

Free text messages

The Callmy text message module includes the following:

  • Free message delivery –
avoid expensive SMS charges.
  • No limit on message length – avoids constraining your messages to just 160 characters.
  • Speed – send >3000 messages per second.
  • The response you require – messages arrive in the dedicated Callmy app, which stands apart from the traditional lines of communication.

 

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The Callmy Management Portal includes the following:

  • Secure SSL login
  • Message activity view – real time statistics on the number of message opens. Enables you to see if your messages are being effective.
  • Follower view – details how many followers your Callmy 
services are achieving.
  • Message count view – the number of messages sent and 
date/time information of when posted and sent.
  • Read, Listen and Delete feature – enables messages to be audited and withdrawn if no longer relevant.
  • Scheduling – either post your Callmy voice and text messages immediately, or schedule a time to send.
  • MP3 upload – upload MP3 sound files to maintain quality and reinforce corporate/brand image.
  • Administration view – Manage administrative access to the Callmy portal and reconfigure/delete accounts as required.

 

For urgent and important communication, we believe the new features further move Callmy towards the first viable alternative to Social Media, email and SMS.

Callmy will help greatly improve messages response and still remains one of the most cost effective mass notification services available on the market today.

Callmy – business media not social media

Callmy Supporting War Child at Childcare Expo 2015

Callmy are proud to be supporting War Child at this years Childcare Expo event.

More details available here:

http://www.childcareexpo.co.uk/london/visiting/london-competitions.htm

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War Child UK is a specialist child protection charity working with children whose lives have been devastated by conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Syria, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.  They are providing life-changing support to the most vulnerable children whose families, communities and schools have been torn apart by war.

 War Child is a UK registered charity number 1071659

Visit www.warchild.org.uk for War Child news and information.

Become a friend of War Child on Facebook:www.facebook.com/warchilduk Or follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/warc

Keeping parents up-to-date – Callmy launch at Childcare Expo 2015

A new service for the childcare market, Callmy, will be launched at Childcare Expo 2015, London Olympia.

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Unexpected events can take many forms, from bad weather to power cuts. These unplanned events can force a nursery to close and put an added burden on communication.

While a Nursery’s priority is the welfare of the children, relying on local radio, SMS or email to inform parents and carers of the situation can be time consuming and ineffective.

Callmy is a voice service that helps control a crisis. By simply making one phone call the nursery can simultaneously broadcast vital information to all parents and carers so everyone is immediately informed – this can also include extended family, friends and neighbours.

Tony Watson, Founder and CEO of Callmy commented, “we’ve developed Callmy to provide Nurseries with a cost effective and simple to use messaging service, which stands apart from SMS, email and Twitter”. It’s of great use during a crisis and will also open a more personal line of communication with parents and carers; which may be a significant business asset too”.

The service has been developed based on the Company’s many years of experience working with the Emergency Services and Civil Contingency planners.

Callmy are launching the service at this years Childcare Expo with a special show offer of £10 per month.

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Callmy also hope that visitors to Childcare Expo will help to raise money for War Child War Child UK is a specialist child protection charity working with children whose lives have been devastated by conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Syria, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. For every person who downloads the free Callmy app and visits the Callmy stand (D60) Callmy will donate £1 to War Child.

Follow Callmy ID: callmy

 

AUCSO 2015 Annual Conference – Callmy

Callmy are pleased to be exhibiting at the AUCSO 2015 Conference – to be held at Loughborough University, Holywell Park Conference Centre and Burleigh Court Hotel.

The Association of University Chief Security Officers, AUCSO, is the primary association for Security Professionals working in Universities, Colleges and Institutions of Higher and Further Education in the UK and Europe.

The Association provides a forum for its members to exchange knowledge, information and best practice relating to security management within the sector.

AUCSO also has links with the International Association of University Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) with most members based in the USA and Canada but with members from around the world.

Each year the Association holds a conference, exhibition and AGM for its members. This years event will provide a useful showcase for Callmy’s capabilities and will provide delegates an opportunity to discuss how they support communications resilience.

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Speak so people listen

We may be accused of being slightly biased but we find it very curious that when it comes to communicating, we choose to ignore the most powerful and effective medium we have at our disposal – voice. It would appear we’ve forgotten how to speak to each other.

Take a few minutes to watch this inspiring and useful Ted talk by Julian Treasure, which may make you remember you have a better option than text:

School Emergency Plans: Communication Considerations

Of interest to:

  • Head-teachers
  • Chairs of Governors
  • Academy Trustees
  • School Business Managers
  • Nursery Owners/Managers
  • Emergency Planners

 

A helpful summary of how to ensure your communications are ready for a crisis

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While real emergencies are (thankfully) rare, schools are required to have arrangements in place for situations that impact the whole school community: whether it be storms, gas leaks, or criminal activity. When a crisis hits, schools need to be ready to inform, reassure and react to complex situations.

Detailed guidance for schools planning for emergencies and severe weather, is available from the Government*

https://www.gov.uk/emergencies-and-severe-weather-schools-and-early-years-settings

Some may find the official guidance heavy going, particularly the Cabinet Offices supporting documentation. Taken at face value there are also some potential gotchas and other scenarios that need to be understood.

Given the lack of predictability in climate, global security and the legal complexities of health and safety legislation, planning for emergencies can be a challenge when resources are limited – particularly for smaller schools and nurseries.

Telephone Communications

One underlying theme is the need to maintain effective communications throughout the emergency. The government’s guidance states a phone number should be nominated and shared with relevenat stakeholders and parents. This seems to be just a tick box item but it needs careful consideration in your planning process – it may be vital to your response.

In an emergency you may experience a significant increase in the number of calls you receive. This would place a burden on your telephony infrastructure (the number of lines you have serving your school) and call answering resources (the number of people you can allocate to answering calls).

An engaged phone will cause distress to parents, will prevent the emergency services coordinating a response and will mean the media are not correctly briefed – beware of quotes from unofficial sources.

Alternative Communication Plans

Also what type of emergency are you planning for? Events on the ground may affect the resources you have access to. For instance, a flood will not only affect your ability to travel, it may cause a loss of power and your local telephone exchange may fail. Your fall back position, therefore, may be to use a mobile phone as an alternative.

However, if you live in a metropolitan area a ‘7/7-type’ event may mean the mobile network is not available. Guidance on this is currently under review.

We are now in an age when we are trying to plan for the unexpected and unimaginable, and it is a significant challenge to plan for the next event, based on past events.

It’s not as easy as sharing the school telephone number, unfortunately.

Next Steps

So how can you remedy this and put measures in place to help support a survivable telephony service which will support your emergency response.

Consider the following:

  • Decide who will be the ‘voice’ of the school for different events: Head, Chair of Governors, etc.
  • Know who to call for advice. Do you have a contact number ready for the LA, Health Trust or Police for emergency advice?
  • Use several numbers for specific groups to contact – parents, the emergency services and the media. This spreads the load and will help you to allocate your resources accordingly.
  • Make your numbers for the emergency services and media ex directory, to prevent misuse.
  • Use out of area numbers (OoA) to ensure your telephony survives a loss of local infrastructure. You may want to speak to another school that could provide thess for you.
  • Alternatively, you could use a non-geographic number (NGN)– 03 numbers are now typically used by government.
  • Decide where your OoA or NGN numbers need to deliver to (and who will answer). If you are using the goodwill of a friendly school who are provide numbers for you, they will need to call forward to one of your numbers. If you are using an NGN number, this will need to “deliver to” one of your numbers (fixed or mobile). The provider should set this up for you and may provide a portal to help you control this in the future.
  • If your emergency creates a call spike, or if you local telephone service (fixed or mobile) isn’t available, look at using a call answering service/emergency switchboard provider. You will need to define a process to brief the call centre agents on the message they need to give out. Once again your OoA/NGN number will have to be configured to deliver to the required location.
  • Use a notification service to send proactive alerts and messages. This should prevent many of the calls you would normally receive reaching your location – thus reducing the burden on your telephone system and resources. A cloud based service would be recommended, as something locally deployed will be susceptible to local infrastructure failure; power, telephony, etc.
  • Don’t depend on one channel!  One final point to understand is the threat to your data network. Posting information onto your website may be vital to your emergency response but once again the emergency may impact local infrastructure. In addition, the threat of ‘Cyber attack’ has now become pervasive to our nation’s security and this includes our education system.

This is a thought provoking challenge and one recommendation would be to avoid single points of attack. If costs permit and if resources allow, build a plan that covers processes, people and resources.

Try to buddy up with out of area schools and colleges (something our emergency services do for their 999 call handling) Consider duplicating resource from multiple vendors, use systems with differing technology, avoid locally deployed services and if this is going to cause sleepless nights, employ a emergency planning consultant who can advise on the best approach.

Finally, it is worth remembering that a true crisis is unlikely. If you need to explain the School nativity has been cancelled due to Joseph having stage fright and the Three Kings going down with Chickenpox, your normal communication should work fine.

However, it is a legal requirement to be ready for something more serious, and while we all hope for the best, it is essential to be ready for the worst.

 

 

Law change floated to enable emergency alerts

Location based text to replace sirens for warning citizens of emergencies

The UK Government has taken the first steps towards setting up a national system capable of texting mobile phones with information about a terrorist attack or another major emergency. A consolation opening yesterday proposes a change in the law to enable every mobile phone in a defined area to be teed with an emergency alert.

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In the immediate aftermath of the July 2005 bombings in London, the City of London Police shut down mobile phone networks within a mile of Aldgate East, one of three stations hit by suicide bombers. Contingency plans for shut-downs were also part of the preparations for the 2012 Olympics.

Official thinking now seems to have swung behind the idea that mobile networks are more use in emergency situations when switched on. Especially for official communications. Today’s consultation cites the need to disseminate information in situations such as floods or industrial accidents at chemical sites – and that the cellular network makes a vastly better information conduit than the traditional sirens.

This is clearly a step in the right direction and a significant improvement on the current arrangements. However, it may create a dilemma for the Emergency services if the public start to rely on this capability as the ONLY point of reference, when terrorists are using the mobile network to detonate explosive devices. We would assume in this situation the public would be notified that the service was going to be shut down and they should refer to “something else” as an alternative source. Emergency stakeholders will need to have extremely fluid plans to overcome such an event. In addition, we believe it is questionable to only to inform citizens in the effected area – if my family or property are at risk but I am working outside the area, I will be out of the communication loop. Allowing citizens to opt in an to receive alerts irrespective of their location would surely be preferable.

Securing the service will be of paramount importance – if hackers were to gain access, they would have an excellent vehicle for spreading misinformation and could compound an emergency with potentially dire consequence.

It will be interesting to see how Government deliver this proposed service and whether they will defer to local agencies to take decisions on the most effective and relevant capability to alert the communities they serve.

For more information on the consolation, please refer to: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changing-existing-regulations-for-an-emergency-alert-system

Callmy Mass Notification – Phase One Development Complete

Our objective to develop a cloud based platform to support the delivery of the Callmy Voice Notification Service, has now been achieved. We have also developed user access via iOS, Android and Windows apps. These are in the store and ready to download here.

CallmyWe believe Callmy is the most cost effective Mass Notification service on the market today. It offers a simple solution with the capacity to significantly reduce the management overheads, normally associated with notification systems. It wall also provide a valuable business continuity asset for customers deployed services.