Schools and Cities Send 9.7 Million Messages During Swine Flu Outbreak with Blackboard Connect(TM) Platform
--Notification technology helps schools communicate more quickly and consistently
WASHINGTON, May 26, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- As the world waited for news about the swine flu outbreak, many U.S. school and government leaders used notification technology to proactively reach parents and residents with important updates and information - the latest example of the way that time-sensitive communication has advanced far beyond the days when it might have taken officials days to reach all of their constituents with little or no way to confirm that important messages were received.
In just eight days, from April 27 to May 4, Blackboard Connect(TM) sent some 9.79 million messages direct to users in support of school and government outreach efforts, according to Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB), a global leader in education technology.
Approximately 40 percent of the messages dealt with the flu outbreak and helped officials quickly reach parents, staff and residents. Officials communicated a wide range of information through email, voicemail and text messages, including updates on potential cases and precautionary measures being taken to help control the spread of disease and eliminate undue panic in communities. Experts cite the importance of rapid and consistent communication of accurate information in minimizing the impact of a public threat.
For the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Blackboard Connect platform plays a key role in their emergency preparedness plan. On Monday, April 27, within the first hours of public concern over the flu, Dr. Kimberly Uyeda, LAUSD's Director of Student Medical Services recorded and sent the following message to 713,000 unique recipients, in both English and Spanish (to hear the actual recorded messages, see the links at the end of this release):
"We want to inform you, at this time, there are no known cases of the Swine Flu in our schools. The school district is working closely with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to protect the health of students and staff. More than 600 school nurses are monitoring student absences and custodians are washing down common areas at school sites more frequently, on an as needed basis. Schools are currently open and we are urging everyone to follow these simple steps: cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands frequently, if you are sick stay home, if your child is sick please do not send him or her to school."
"Because California borders Mexico and so many of our students have family ties to cities in Mexico where the outbreak first hit, it was imperative that we quickly and effectively addressed the issue," Dr. Uyeda said. "On the morning of April 27, our phone lines were swamped by concerned parents who wanted to know if schools were closed, and most importantly, if their children would be safe. From my office phone, we were able to record and send an assuring message, in English and Spanish, to parents, students and staff. The incoming calls quickly subsided and we were able to focus on keeping our students safe."
In addition to outreach surrounding the Swine Flu outbreak, LAUSD officials regularly use the Blackboard Connect platform to communicate information on student attendance, activities and testing schedules and volunteer programs. The outreach has helped to increase student achievement, parental involvement and overall enrollment.
A number of other school and government leaders used the Blackboard Connect platform to report suspected flu cases and quickly communicate campus closures. Among the first to respond was Dr. Max Riley, Superintendent of Port Jefferson Union Free School District in New York.
"After the Governor issued a state of awareness, it was crucial that we communicate with parents quickly and directly to inform them of the health and safety precautions our school district was actively taking," Riley said. "With the Blackboard Connect platform, we were able to effectively convey those important messages directly to parents in a matter of minutes."
Drawing on the experience gained in delivering hundreds of millions of messages for nearly 2,500 K-12 organizations, college campuses and cities nationwide, as well as government and military organizations, the Blackboard Connect platform enables officials to quickly reach their organizations and communities through voice, text and email messages to a variety of communication platforms and devices. The Blackboard Connect platform allows officials to send an unlimited number of messages, requires no additional hardware, and can be used from any computer with Internet access or telephone. This ensures that administrators can send vital messages from wherever they are located--even if they are evacuated.
To listen to Blackboard Connect messages sent by LAUSD, please visit: http://www.blackboardconnect.com/samples/SwineFluMessageLAUSD.wav (English) and http://www.blackboardconnect.com/samples/SwineFluMessageSpanishMessageLAUSD.wav (Spanish). For more information about Blackboard Connect solutions, please visit http://www.blackboard.com/Alert-Notification/Connect-Platform.aspx.
About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB) is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard's solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard and other statements containing the words "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "will," and similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including the factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of our Form 10-Q filed on May 7, 2009 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of May 26, 2009. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to May 26, 2009.
SOURCE Blackboard Inc.