[unisog] When you really need to blast email

Stephen John Smoogen smooge at unm.edu
Tue Mar 11 20:15:25 GMT 2008

Michael Holstein wrote:
>> I would argue that logic of selecting e-mail as a technology for
>> dispatching emergency notices is indeed within the scope of the
>> technical question.  
> I agree .. but this is a case of "we bought $x, it does $y, now make it 
> work". We've all had our share of those, I'm sure :)

In those cases, I usually sit back in my chair, laugh at them and remind
them that doing silly things without getting a technical review could be
seen as taxpayer waste, fraud, and abuse.. and start dialing the WFA
toll-free number .. then I wake up from my happy place and try to solve
the problem.

The companies that do the outsourcing products usually set up special
deals with big providers to make sure they can deliver large amounts
etc.. and that is what you are paying for. You should be able to find
out what Yahoo would charge your university per month for such a service
and give that price to the safety people as an extra cost. You may also
need to get that quote from MSN, etc.

In this case, your emergency services email would have to come from a
specific IP address that only these messages come from and Yahoo/MSN
would give preference to that IP for some 'fee'.

>> Selecting an appropriate technology for a given
>> problem is always important, and I'm fairly certain that Internet e-mail
>> is not a great selection for dispatching emergency notifications.  
> Email is one of three options (the others being Voice and SMS). I can 
> almost gaurentee that email will be the default for students that don't 
> select one of the others, and most probably won't bother unless we force 
> them to do so before registering, etc. on-line. Every student has a 
> @csuohio.edu address, and they forward them to their "mail" personal 
> address if they don't want to check our webmail (and most don't). 
> There's several thousand of them forwarded to Yahoo at the moment.

Well I would just let the safety people know that people who outsource
their email etc will get spotty service and that there isn't anything
technically that can be done. They can advertise that on the signup
page. Alternatives would be seeing what the cost for every student to
getting a blackberry?

In the long run, any of these services (Voice, SMS, paging, email) are
going to be spotty. It takes a while for paging services to get out even
1000 pages. Trying to get out 10,000 can take an hour for some places..
especially when you may have different paging vendors, different cell
phone carriers etc. Email is less reliable in time for every hop outside
it might need to take. Safety plans need to deal with the fact that 95%
of the people will not know about a problem in a critical timeframe and
people are trained in getting the info out while the pages etc take time.

One item I have heard being used to make up for this is using tornado
sirens as a backup..

Stephen Smoogen -- ITS/Linux Administrator
  MSC02 1520 1 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM  87131-0001
  Phone: (505) 277-8219  Email: smooge at unm.edu
 How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed
 in a naughty world. = Shakespeare. "The Merchant of Venice"

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