California Campuses require a robust mass messaging system to replace the seven different types of communication systems they had developed over the years.
Editor’s note: This higher education installation won MNEC sister publication Security Sales & Integration‘s Awesome Applications award in the Fire/Life Safety category.
In this mass notification and emergency communications (MNEC) system project, North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) in California required a robust mass messaging system to replace the seven different types of communication systems they had developed over the years to reach their more than 61,000 students and 2,500 staff members spread across multiple campuses.
The district turned to San Francisco-based Regroup to streamline a modern cloud-based MNEC solution and tap into the provider’s experience working with all types of organizations (the company was actually founded at Stanford University in 2006 as a way to help the school improve its communications).
The district’s ideal notification system, according to Regroup CEO Joe DiPasquale, was one that could be leveraged for both day-to-day informational messages, as well as during emergency situations, in order to comply with requirements of the Clery Act relating to emergency notifications, timely warnings, and reporting.
Each of NOCCCD’s seven existing systems required separate logins and were completely different user platforms, making sending a message unnecessarily complicated, DiPasquale explains. During an emergency they were required to manually log-in to at least two — sometimes three or four — systems just to send a message.
Additionally, the district required a mass messaging platform that was robust enough that it could integrate with their two primary existing systems: Ellucian Banner Student Information System, which allows access to the contact information for all students and staff; and SARS Scheduling System, which is used for staff to send students reminders of appointments and deadlines.
“The district also found their notifications were being viewed as spam or were throttled due to the volume of messages being sent,” says DiPasquale. Regroup had met the application development manager for NOCCCD during the EDUCAUSE 2013 conference, and eventually selected the provider because of its API and ability to integrate with those existing systems, according to DiPasquale. “Our platform easily integrated with NOCCCD’s Banner SIS, as well as the district’s website and social media channels. Regroup was the only mass notification provider they spoke with who was willing to work with them to develop an API for their unique messaging needs.”
Also, Regroup’s offsite system for all communications allows the MNEC to remain operational in the event of a local power outage or other network disruptions. Regroup provided training and support during the installation and implementation process, which began in January 2015 and took approximately two months — well within the scheduled timeframe, DiPasquale notes.
Regroup met with end-user personnel weekly until the implementation was finalized, and has provided ongoing training since as part of its no-additional-cost 24/7 customer support and training services.
“NOCCCD went from having to rely on multiple systems to send messages, to one platform that empowers them to send mass notifications simultaneously to multiple communication channels such as cell [text/voice], landlines, email, digital signage, alert beacons, PA systems, websites and more,” DiPasquale says. “We introduced two-way data importing, too. This allows NOCCCD to be able to seamlessly import users and communicate with them on the fly.”