Amatra InTouch

– A Fire Chief’s Perspective of the Power of Smart Communication 8/26/13

City of Hutchins Fire and Rescue

City of Hutchins Fire and Rescue

Recently, we had the pleasure to interview Chief Hickson of Hutchins Fire and Rescue in the City of Hutchins, Texas, about how he was able to strengthen incident management and streamline communication efforts by using Amatra SmartSource™ mass notification solution.

Prior to using SmartSource™, Chief Hickson was manually emailing and calling his internal team. When seconds count, Hickson says, “Receiving a quick response using email and dialing phone numbers is extremely frustrating and time consuming, especially when we are in the business of saving lives.” Now, with SmartSource™, he says, “With a few clicks, I can notify my team, city officials, and the public through voice calls, text messages, email and social media within minutes”. In one instance, Chief Hickson was short of a firefighter and had to manually call,  text and email each one of them, painfully one by one to get extra help on a big fire call.  Now Chief Hickson has the power to target the right people, at the right time, with effective channels with real-time notification and response.

The City of Hutchins Fire and Rescue Department must be available to dispatch calls for all sorts of emergency situations such as:

  • Medical calls

  • Assist ambulance

  • Major accidents

  • Fire alarms

  • Gas leaks

  • Grass fires

  • Vehicle unlocks and, of course,

  • Cats in trees (“I only saved 2 distressed cats in trees in my 29 years”, he says)

SmartSource™ helps emergency personnel to more quickly and efficiently transmit information internally or publicly as needed through multiple outlets such as email, text and social media.When asked how Chief Hickson uses social media to connect with the community, he said, “Facebook has been a great way to engage our community and fans and provide our community with current information regarding its response to a natural disaster. It’s a great way to connect our neighboring communities with instructions on evacuation and shelter options. We also use Facebook to provide fire prevention education, fire rescue news and local events. With the SmartSource™, I’m able to post one mass notification message to our community leaders as well as Facebook page in an instant.”

The City of Hutchins is very lucky to have such an amazing group of fire fighters and forward thinking Chief. Please visit  the City of Hutchins Fire and Rescue Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hutchins-Fire-Rescue and thank them for keeping us safe.

Amatra-Logo+Smartsource(side)

- 5 Challenges Governments Face in Social Media Compliance for Citizen Communications 9/13/12

For a lot of people, especially younger people, life is lived out online. Today, just about anyone can pay bills, make restaurant reservations and get movie tickets, plan travel, keep in touch with friends all over the world and get the news faster than ever.

What did these people do before there were cell phones?

So it makes sense that government agencies — local, state and federal — would try to tap into the popularity and prevalence of the ultimate democratic technology for citizen communications, from emergency situations to drought-condition water restrictions,burn bans and city/county public meetings. There are a lot of opportunities!

For one, social media is often the first place people see things now; it’s one of the most direct ways to reach a very public audience. And well-executed social media posts can also become viral almost immediately, a boon for agencies hoping to make a strong impact with their news.

But despite those opportunities, there are actually many more challenges that go along with social media and can create obstacles to using it effectively for citizen communication. Here’s a look at the top five stumbling blocks government agencies can encounter:

1. Effort

It takes a serious investment of time and resources to manage multiple social media outlets — and provide enough coverage to reach as many citizens as possible. Logging into different social media sites and posting this information takes a lot of time, and it’s hard to be consistent. Are you equipped for that investment?

2. Security

Government agencies are in a tough spot here: You’ll want someone skilled and trained in social media management, but do they have the security clearance to be privy to all the information they’ll need to inform your citizens? And if an employee who had the passwords to all your social networks leaves the company, it can be a hassle to change the passwords and maintain your security.

3.    Accountability

It is difficult to track who sent the message to whom and when and how — and even harder to know who’s seeing it, and when and where.

4.    Brand protection

The gloves often come off in social media. It’s important to safeguard your agency’s brand and message, as well as protect its privacy where necessary.

5.    Analytics

It can be tough to determine which metrics are most meaningful for quantifying who you’re reaching with your posts, and how to make decisions based on those metrics. Do you have the staff and resources to dig into the numbers?

Amatra has the tools and best practices to help governments tackle the challenges they’re facing in implementing social media for their citizen communications. For more information, visit our website or email info@amatra.com. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

Photo: Ed Yourdon

- Growing Link Between Social Media and Emergency Information 7/5/12

A recent study by the Red Cross revealed some important information about the future of emergency communication and mass notification. In addition to confirming the tremendous growth of social media sites and social networking tools (84% of respondents use social media at least once a week), the study also found that citizens are ready to start using these sites to keep updated with emergencies and important information about the communities around them. More than half of the survey’s participants indicated they would sign up for emails, texts alerts, or web applications to keep them notified of emergency situations. From evacuation routes to road closures, a generation or web-savvy citizens are looking to keep instantly updated with the information they need to stay safe and secure.

As it turns out, these new communication preferences don’t just go one way. The Red Cross also discovered that 69% of survey respondents expected city governments and emergency responders to be monitoring social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in times of trouble to find those in need of help. Nearly three quarters of these individuals expected help to arrive within half an hour of their online request for help. Clearly, the public’s expectations are moving toward new ways for officials and aid organizations to communicate and collaborate with them, and local governments must respond to meet these expectations.

Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, says the report reveals important findings that shouldn’t be taken lightly. “The social web is creating a fundamental shift in disaster response,” she says, “one that will ask emergency managers, government agencies and aid organizations to mix time-honored expertise with real-time input from the public. We need to work together to better respond to that shift.”

At Amatra, the Red Cross’s findings confirm the concepts that we’ve built our business and state-of-the-art Amatra SmartSource™ platform around. Creating an effective and efficient relationship between a local government and its citizens hinges on effective and efficient communication. As the public moves to new methods of preferred communication, governments must similarly adapt. In the next few weeks, we’ll be talking more about groundbreaking applications of social media for governmental and emergency response agencies. We’ll also discuss how the Amatra SmartSource™ platform can manage, control, and track a plethora of communication channels to ensure that when every second matters, everyone gets the message.

To see the complete results of the Red Cross Social Media in Disasters and Emergencies Study, click here.

For more information on the Amatra SmartSource™ platform, click here.

- The Future of Mass Notification…and Where Amatra Comes In 3/1/12

In our last article, we talked about the growing trend for local governments and emergency response teams to communicate with their citizens through social media tools. Using these new mediums of communication coincides with the public’s increasing expectations to be reached through channels such as text messages and social networking websites. The Red Cross’ findings affirmed need for the Amatra SmartSource™ platform, an all-in-one tool that puts important information in the hands of those who need it, exactly when they need it.

Traditionally, the process of mass notification in the event of emergency situations has consisted of broadcasting messages over television and radio, hoping that a large enough audience will be reached to effectively manage the crisis. With our SmartSource platform, however, mass notification isn’t left up to chance. Whether it’s reaching volunteer fire fighters through text messages, an entire neighborhood through immediate phone calls, or even a school of students through Facebook and Twitter, SmartSource reaches each individual in the fastest, most effective way.

In moments of crisis, it is essential that the planning stage of mass notification is already taken care of. Amatra SmartSource™ implements a plethora of innovative tools to make this planning process safe, secure, and thorough. First, the platform lets emergency management officials create pre-defined notification groups such as law enforcement or local school administration so they aren’t left scrambling to discern who needs information when an emergency arises. Second, pre-defined message templates make certain that complete messages are ready for distribution in an instant. Lastly, geographically-targeted notifications eliminate time wasted checking if an entire area has been reached through traditional communications by contacting its inhabitants through multiple channels.

Local governments are starting to understand what businesses have known for years: catering your message to the communication preferences of your audience dramatically alters the way it is received. As the number of communication channels increases, the all-in-one solution found with Amatra SmartSource™ has the power to transform these local governments into safe, secure environments through safe, secure communication.

- The message and the audience doesn’t change, the way we communicate has. How are you keeping up with this change? 2/9/12

Remember when phones had cords? If you ask the incoming collegiate class of 2014, the answer will be a resounding “no.” A recent report by Beloit College revealed a number of characteristics of this young adult generation’s mindset and many of the most startling findings related to the way they communicate and connect with the world around them.

It’s no surprise that corded phones and snail mail are lost relics to the class of 2014, but the study found another interesting communication trend: email is outdated. Less than two decades after beginning its rapid rise in mainstream popularity, email is already seen by the new generation as too slow and cumbersome. Social networking sites and text messages have moved in as the preferred method of reaching out and hooking up, providing a quicker, more streamlined method of communicating.

For businesses, this young generation represents an outstanding potential market, but their ever-changing communication preferences pose the daunting challenge of how best to reach them. Amatra SmartSource™ takes the dilemma out of your hands by equipping you with a platform that can adopt and adapt to the evolving landscape of communication technology. Connect through email, text, and social networking today. When something new comes along, don’t change your entire communication strategy to try to keep up. Let SmartSource™ take your existing strategies and adapt to new technology on the fly, so that you’re always a leader in reaching your audience, not a follower.

Your business is concerned with crafting the perfect message and finding the exact audience that needs to hear it. At Amatra, we’re passionate about how you send that message. Expending time and money to purchase new tools and retrain employees every time technology reshapes your audience will leave you scattered, spending, and slow to change. Through every communication channel and with every new technology, Amatra SmartSource™ will connect you to customers in a clear, consistent way.

The message and the audience doesn’t change, the way we communicate has. How are you keeping up with this change?

To see the complete results of the Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014, click here.

To learn more about the evolving communication solutions of Amatra SmartSource, click here.

- Social Media Compliance for the Enterprise 8/20/10

Social media and social networking websites haven’t just found a whirlwind of popularity with web users around the world; they’ve become serious business. The role of these social networking utilities for communicating with customers and connecting with the public has quickly changed from a novelty to a necessity for many companies. As enterprises have adopted these tools more and more, the need for guidelines and regulations concerning their use has become apparent, and one of the first developments in this area is the recent release of a regulatory notice by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) about the use of social media.

FINRA’s notice is targeted specifically at securities agents and brokers, but at Amatra, we believe the guidance and advice outlined in the notice is applicable and useful for enterprises in all industries. In a nutshell, the notice states that all firms must keep records of all communications made by broker-agents through social media sites and blogs. Any investment recommendations made through these sites are bound by the same rules and regulations as recommendations made in person or through other mediums. While firms are not held responsible for content posted on their sites by outside parties, they can still be held liable for any information they had a hand in creating. To see the full-text of regulatory notice 10-06, click here.

So where does Amatra come in? The answer is simple. FINRA’s new regulations are a sign of things to come concerning the use of social media within business, and without an organized foundation from which to launch your company’s online communications, keeping up with these regulations will be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. The Amatra SmartSource™ platform provides a single source to coordinate, launch, and record your social media presence. Basically, SmartSource™ stores and tracks every communication you send out so you don’t have to. In a year, are you going to be able to find that Facebook status update you just posted? SmartSource™ will.

FINRA advises every firm to adopt supervisory practices to make sure that outgoing messages and posts are reviewed and approved before finding their way to the web. This review process is streamlined with Amatra’s help, as all content passes through the SmartSource™ system before being sent out. This means you’ll be reading and reviewing all content in one location, ensuring that your company’s message is uniform, consistent, and compliant. To learn more about Amatra’s Enterprise solutions, click here.

If you’re trying to break into the world of social media, start smart. Don’t fall behind the rapidly changing rules and regulations concerning social networking sites and online communications. Amatra SmartSource™ provides you with a single, organized platform to build a successful and innovative social media campaign and realize the power of one source, infinite communications.

Amatra Team

- Social Collaboration for Business 4/8/10

Did you know

    53% of customers expect to increase spending for Social Software according to Gartner.
    IDC expect 41% Annual Growth Rate in Online Community Software until 2013.

As the capabilities of digital devices soar and prices plummet, sensors and gadgets are digitizing vast amounts of information that was previously unavailable.

According to recent analyst reports, enterprise data growth over the next 5 years is estimated at 650 percent. Estimates are that 80 percent of this data will be unstructured, generated from a variety of sources such as blogs, videos, email, etc. In fact, 70% of this unstructured data is stale after 90 days.

With this ongoing shift in the market, companies and governments need to be able to analyze and extract intelligence from information, irrespective of where data resides, in real time — without being bound by a particular system or platform.

Source – IBM