Sunday, October 20th, 2013
The NSW Bushfire Crisis shows the level at which schools and childcare centres are adopting text messaging to keep parents informed during an emergency - speed, appropriateness of message and reliability are paramount to keeping the community informed. 

When Mission Australia needed to communicate with parents at its Williamstown Early Learning Centre at 9.30PM on Thursday night (17 Oct), at the peak of the NSW bushfires, they called school text messaging company MGM Wireless in Adelaide.

Within four minutes, the MGM Outreach system had messaged 330 parents letting them know that the centre would be closed on the following day due to the bushfires raging in the area.

That is just one example of the requests made via MGM's call centre over the course of the crisis. The company's SMS systems experienced a massive spike in messages as affected schools let parents know about the impact of the worst fires in over the decade.

“Our staff were fielding calls into the night helping schools affected by either fire or smoke,” CEO Mark Fortunatow said.  “Messages ranged from notices about school closures to health alerts to evacuations and transport arrangements.  Text messages have become integral to the emergency communications effort."

To help understand the types of concerns parents and schools have at such a time, here are some messages sent from NSW schools: 
  • “The air quality is poor due to the bushfires so please be mindful of students with respiratory illnesses such as Asthma and take necessary precautions.”
  • “It is quite smoky out there today. Asthmatics should carry puffers!”
  • “If you receive a txt regarding an absence please respond with a reason. Absence due to fire will be marked as Exempt.”
  • “Due to a large number of staff affected by the bush fire, only HSC students and those who cannot be supervised by parents should attend school on Friday.”
  • “We have confirmed with staff at retreat that all are safe and well. No danger they are continuing as normal. They will return as advertised tomorrow.”
“These messages show that the aim is to reduce stress for parents and the community so they have some certainty about what's going on," Mr Fortunatow said.
“It is all about preparedness. Schools are ideally placed to communicate with their entire community as they have parents’ contact details on hand. SMS systems have become the most accepted way for parents to find out about their children’s safety.”

Contact Profile

Mark Fortunatow, Chairman and CEO

P: +61 8 8104 9555
M: +61 421 328 984


school SMS, text messaging for schools, texts for childcare centres




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