Clickatell, global provider of mobile messaging solutions, today announced several new customers who rely on SMS to save lives and connect people by providing critical information during times of tragedy. The world experienced many tragedies in 2008 - earthquake in China, cyclone in Myanmar, wildfires in California and Australia, Hurricane IKE in Texas, and other events that impacted millions. When these events occurred, people often got separated from family, were in harms' way and needed to send and receive critical information immediately.

The Hudson River emergency airplane landing is a perfect example of how SMS was used to connect families during times of chaos. Unknown to the average person, SMS was also used to notify local officials to dispatch them to the scene immediately, which positively affected the heroic outcome. The government agencies who needed to be informed had laid out a mobile plan of action--in advance--to communicate immediately at the time of the crisis via SMS.

Local and national government and private organizations must be able to communicate bad weather, community tragedies, and other unforeseen events that effect people in the heat of the moment, letting them know if they need to leave an unsafe area or pick up their children immediately, for example. Everyone carries an SMS-enabled mobile device and organizations have the technological ability to inform people immediately, exactly where they are. Without a solid mobile communications plan in place, however, people might have to wait for critical information from television, radio, or "the word" on the street. Because people are typically mobile during times of crisis, they may not be able to receive critical information necessary to save their lives unless delivered directly to their mobile device.

Everyone remembers the unfortunate response rates in Mayanmar, China and Katrina in New Orleans where emergency notifications could have been much improved. If local enterprises, governments and communities had each established an SMS-based emergency alert system ahead of time, tens of thousands of people would have been better informed via their mobile phone prior, during and after the crisis.

Ordinary people around the world depend on up-to-the-minute information during times of emergency. Responsible officials including government emergency response organizations, local community leaders, employers, school officials, and others all share in the responsibility to disburse effective communications during a crisis. If organizations prepare now by implementing a mobile emergency alert system to communicate effectively, more lives can be saved.

"All types of organizations need to be ready to communicate immediately when tragedy strikes. People have the ability to react and respond effectively - which is far more reliable than our ability to predict the unknown," said Pieter de Villiers, CEO of Clickatell. "Also, organizations today are more socially aware and responsible than ever before. Whether you run a refinery in Africa or New Orleans, run a public transportation system such as BART in California, or sponsor a local community organization, it only takes a couple hours to prepare for mobile emergency communications by establishing procedures, collecting mobile numbers, and setting up a messaging account. SMS is the easiest and most cost effective way to reach anyone, anytime; even when voice calls cannot go through, text messages still can."

Clickatell has a myriad of solutions available for any organization wanting to prepare its messaging solution today. Reaching more than 700 networks in over 200 countries, Clickatell offers assurances to ensure critical messages are delivered anywhere, anytime, so they reach their intended recipient. There are three easy steps organizations can do now to prepare:

  1. Determine emergency action policies and process guidelines including parameters of message importance, who it comes from, when it needs to be sent, and response mechanisms, if any. Adding SMS as a primary channel for instant communications during tragedy means that setting up policies and guidelines in advance is essential.
  2. Establish a list of constituents--as they opt-in to receive emergency alerts--and begin collecting mobile numbers. This can be done internally in an existing web or phone-based application or through a mobile messaging provider. Every large enterprise, small- or medium-sized business, government, community, or even individual with an existing website and/or call center can easily modify existing portals, IVR call systems and live agent call management solutions procedures to receive "opt-in" permission and collect mobile numbers automatically from constituents for the purpose of receiving SMS emergency notifications.
  3. Establish an account with Clickatell: it's easy, quick and free. No need for heavy-duty software installations, this important step will provide a head start so that organizations everywhere can be ready during crisis to instantly communicate important information to the masses. Message credits can be purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis, and Clickatell's message delivery service is always 'on', available 24/7, to send critical notifications whenever and wherever needed. Clickatell maintains a broad range of Application Programming Interfaces (API's) that can be easily incorporated into existing web portals, call center systems and other communication technologies. Clickatell also provides a web-based solution to manage opt-in mobile numbers and emergency response message creation and delivery which requires no integration or technical training. Using Clickatell, sending critical text messages in time of crisis is as easy as sending email.

CUSTOMERS AROUND THE GLOBE WORK WITH CLICKATELL

The US government and various federal and local agencies: Effective communications between government, state and local agencies and their constituents is absolutely essential in case of emergencies or disaster, either natural or man made. The successful operation of rescue efforts including incident and damage assessment, mobilization of rescue workers, transmission of emergency instructions, and managing evacuations requires immediate communication between various agencies throughout government. Recently, Clickatell powered the SMS emergency response communications for the wildfires in Southern California, the Hudson River airline emergency landing communications, as well as supplemental security and alert communications for the recent inauguration in Washington, DC.

TextaParent: Universities and public schools battle budget constraints using SMS: Clickatell's expertise helped principal teachers in Ireland to develop a website, dubbed TextaParent for school principals to communicate quickly and easily with parents, staff and community services. Affiliated principals simply access and manage the SMS system by logging onto the website and registering their school community for an account. Immediately, those heads of schools can notify groups of unpredictable events like changes, closures and cancellations due to severe weather. In worst-case scenarios, SMS may prove to be the fastest, widest and most reliable way to disseminate emergency information during a school or community crisis. "Principals have struggled with the safest, easiest and most reliable way to keep families in the information loop. Now Clickatell has the solution: the shortest distance between a school and a parent/guardian is through the cell phone. We are thrilled to be working with Clickatell to make sure these critical messages are delivered on time so action can be taken immediately if needed," commented Larry Fleming, President of IPPN.

Souktel: Connecting People with Emergency Aid and Job Alerts, via SMS: A mobile service using SMS to link young people with jobs and connect aid agencies with people who need help, Souktel was founded by Palestinian, Canadian and American graduate fellows at Harvard University and M.I.T., and has been changing lives across developing regions since 2005. "We target low-income job-seekers and low-income families in developing countries," explains co-founder Mohammed Kilany, "and we put special emphasis on serving the needs of rural communities, refugees, women, and youth. Feedback on our service has been extremely positive: Aid agencies that use our AidLink platform are able to deliver medical and food supplies twice as fast--since they've started deploying staff and managing logistics by SMS and web together. In a crisis, saving time and money often makes the difference between life and death. Job-seekers who use our JobMatch service tell us they're finding work 3 to 4 times faster, now that they can access job listings by SMS. Employers are reporting a 50% reduction in search times for new staff. Clickatell helps us deliver these services by giving us access to a huge range of mobile phone networks across the globe, which saves time and money in each country where we operate. One single connection to the Clickatell system means that we can launch our database service on almost all networks in a country right away--giving a maximum number of people access to life-changing information."

FrontlineSMS: Immediate Mobile Health Information via SMS: kiwanja.net / FrontlineSMS specializes in helping grassroots non-profits in the developing world integrate mobile technology. One of kiwanja.net's main projects, Clickatell-powered FrontlineSMS provides free software, which turns a PC and mobile phone into a two-way group-messaging center. NGOs can use FrontlineSMS for a wide range of activities including, providing market prices to farmers, monitoring elections, reporting human rights abuses, distributing news and information, running rural healthcare services, collecting data from the field and to provide security alerts to fieldworkers in places like Afghanistan, and more.

FrontlineSMS is generating significant interest in the mHealth sector where it is helping power a rural healthcare network for over 250,000 people at the low cost of $3,000 for the entire project. Bloggers in Pakistan also employed FrontlineSMS during the recent state-of-emergency to receive valuable news from foreign sources. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the FrontlineSMS application forms part of the Ushahidi platform to collect violence reports via SMS. And, in Iraq the country's first independent news agency distributes noteworthy materials to the public via FrontlineSMS. "Clearly, users working in challenging environments require as much help and support as we can give them. FrontlineSMS is proving itself around the world as a robust and reliable messaging solution, and Clickatell - as the most visible SMS aggregator and one increasingly active in the non-profit world - are the right company for us to partner with to offer these important services," said Ken Banks, Founder of kiwanja.net.

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