As with most others who are reviewing their notification processes
and systems, some of my colleagues and I have been asking some questions
here that I thought I would share regarding any ASP providing services
for notifications. So take this for what it is worth (free consulting)
and you may wish to send back thoughts that you may have regarding
functions or requirements.
For any emergency events that may come up, a distributed ASP or
ASP/Local host hybrid design seems to fit the model for high probability
of delivery. So for ASPs in this area, here are some questions to ask
1) Does the ASP have infrastructure that is redundant and distributed so
that local / regional event would not affect their viability to any
2) Does the ASP provide for bulk loading and management of the data?
You don't want to rely on a live feed as this could be disrupted.
3) ASPs that provide the ability to send targeted messages, should
provide a way to bulk load the target groups/lists membership.
4) We really need to carefully read the ASP data management policies to
see how they protect our student and staff personal information, and
what we allow them to do with it. The good ones will have 3rd party
audits of their data management processes that follow established standards.
5) Does the ASP service allow for feedback? From the delivery system
(how many successes/failures). From the recipients (press 1 for I am OK)
6) Chances are, if you get unlimited use, you will want to use it for
more than emergencies. This is where targeted groups come into their
own. For instance if you want the help desk or support person to be
able to send an SMS text or voice reminder for a service call. Need to
be careful about overuse and abuse.
7) There have been a lot of companies spring up in the last 1-3 years,
if they have had customers in locations during events like Katrina, NY
Power outage, VT, Tsunami, then it would be good to know what their
statistics were from these different events on successful delivery,
response time etc.
8) The ASP should be able to cover at least the following mechanisms
for communication SMS (Text), Land Line, Cell, Email, Text to Speech.
9) They should have no limits or reasonable limits on the number of
phone numbers and email addresses per person for contacts.
10) You can trigger a notification in multiple ways, Web , Phone call
etc... so you are not relying on Internet connectivity alone during an
11) What is the rate of delivery for each service that they provide.
How long does it take them to deliver 1000 cell phone calls, emails,
12) Do they have any carrier limitations or restrictions? If the local
cell phone vendor gets 10,000 text message into their system from the
ASP how will they respond, treat it as spam and drop it? If it
overloads their systems do they shunt those messages or throttle delivery?
13) Email deliveries via on campus systems should be able to always
deliver faster than those of the ASP but we don't want to rely on our
campus systems as they may be affected during an event. If it takes the
vendor an hour to deliver 10,000 email messages, is this sufficient?
14) How do they charge, use based, flat fee per head, based on delivery
time requirements etc..
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