Case Study

Send Text Alerts to Coop Members

The Need

A local Water Coop needed the ability to send text alerts to members if there were problems, upcoming service outages, or special meetings the members needed to be aware of. The water system the coop operates has multiple zones, so they need to control what zone any SMS messages would go to, either all, or some combination of zones as appropriate for the current situation.

The Variables

The system needed to be reliable so making/building their own solution was not an acceptable risk/option; it made more sense to use a 3rd party service. The coop does not want to maintain a code base to support its operation; it wants everything to be as automated and hands-off as possible; both for the short and long term. The access to the screens to send or post messages needs to be secure so it is not hacked or abused, and we need to track who sends what, when it was sent, and to whom.

The Solution

Find an established SMS provider that would be economical for the coop, have very minimal required fees, and just charge for what was used and make that as cost effective as possible. Did the market research and presented the options / costs of several SMS service providers with a rational for why these vendors. Created screens that are only accessible to a defined set of members (i.e., the board), that is allowed to access the screens that support sending messages. Any attempts at unauthorized access to these screens are prevented at the server, so only those approved can get to this interface. Make these screens very simple so that, if board members haven’t seen them for a while, it is clear what they need to do; enter the message they want to send and select the zone or zones the messages is intended for. A dialog appears to verify they want to send the message before it is sent (i.e., Are you Sure?). Create an audit log of all messages sent, who sent them, when it was sent, and what zones the message was sent to. If in the future we need to see who did what we can look at the log. This can also be used if there are any questions relevant to the costs of the messages and the 3rd party service used. The coop can compare the number of messages sent against what the service provider has billed the coop.

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