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Send the right messages at the right times to those who need to know

Posted 23 September 2013 by Sean Fishlock (Crisisworks)

Crisisworks coordinators told us that they wanted an improved announcements system and we listened.

As one of the key ways that coordinators communicate with the EOC team and also the public, announcements 

Crisisworks 3.5 now supports some great new features for announcements including

  • Support for Formatted Announcements
  • Intelligent team selection
  • Scheduling

Richer Messaging

Prior to the new release, announcement messages in Crisisworks were plain text only. This was to support sending to SMS and social media such as Twitter.

You can now send longer, rich formatted messages through the announcement system. This includes, for the first time, file attachments, hyperlinks and other widgets such as embedded media (including hosted video such as YouTube or Vimeo) along with Microsoft Word style rich text formatting options, advanced tables and HTML.

Email messages will now be sent in multi-part format, meaning that they will appear as rich text if supported by a user's email reader, as will feeds, whilst still maintaining compatibility with SMS and social media.

In addition, the dashboard has been improved so that long announcements are linked to the full text and details to reduce clutter on the home screen.  The full archive of announcements, previously unavailable to all users, will be available via a new list screen.

Select Teams With A Need To Know

Another really nice feature is a combo box for selecting specific teams.

This is particularly useful when you need to notify teams that aren't typically involved in this type of incident but can also be handy when there is a very long list of teams involved.  

The system still allows you to select teams by ticking the box, but gives you an option to include your own comma separated list of teams simply by typing them in.  As you type, it makes autosuggestions.  The commonly selected teams are also listed, enabling them to be easily added to the list.

 

Schedule Your Announcements

Last but not least is a fantastic new feature which allows you to schedule your announcement, setting a time period for when they are applicable. This feature makes announcements more strategic and will be available by expanding a new "Advanced Settings" section. While the current message behaviour is still supported, messages are no longer required to be viewable as soon as you add them or remain indefinitely on a user's dashboard screen.

The scheduling feature is really useful if you know in advance what you need to announce and when.  For example if you EOC is opening at a specific time, you can prepare the announcement that it is open and active prior to the event.  Or if, say a storm is expected to hit at a certain time, then a announcements preparing your tactical and operations team can be sent at an interval prior to it.

Messages can also be set to expire rather than remain indefinitely on a user's dashboard screen.  This can be handy to ensure that information is current.  For example if a relief centre is only open for a few days, the message will automatically be archived after this time.

The new system uses Crisisworks' intelligent date/time resolution, supporting both exact and relative time formats as well as adhoc commands such as "tomorrow" and "asap".

Of course all announcements remain in the complete incident log for retrieval and analysis in the post incident audit. 

Stay Tuned

This is just one of the exciting new features in Crisisworks 3.5 which will arrive soon as an automatic update to all software-as-a-service subscribers.

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