HBS touts contact rate of notification system

Sunday, June 1, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS--Saying its notification system has a particularly high “contact rate,” Honeywell Building Solutions in April announced that it added Indiana-based Butler University to its list of campuses (educational, as well as business) where it provides Honeywell Instant Alert Plus, a software-based notification system.

The system allows administrators to send messages by phone, text or email to phones, cell phones, pagers or PDAs. It can send up to 150,000 30-second phone calls and 125,000 text messages within 15 minutes. Its features allow two-way communication and teleconferencing. Messages may be customized for different groups of people, and the contact rate of the messages is tracked through a real-time, Web-based report that shows who has received the alert.

Karla Lemmon, product manager for Honeywell Instant Alert, touted the high contact rate.

“Many college campuses use what’s called an opt-in system where the college buys the notification system and it’s up to the students and staff to subscribe to it,” she explained. Sometimes, subscribing is a two-step process where one must reply to a follow-up email. This kind of a subscription process “has an obvious result--a lower contact rate,” which Lemmon said is around 15 to 50 percent.

With Instant Alert Plus the campus contact database is downloaded so subscribers are automatically enrolled. In one recent instance, at Central Maine Community College in Auburn, Maine, she said, “94 percent of people were hit with at least one alert and we found that 89 percent of devices were hit. That’s quite high and [the college] thought they had a bad database. It was really not that bad.”

This is a “software as a service concept,” where customers sign up for a three-year contract and all messages are included in that cost, Lemmon said. There is no hardware involved.

The system is available through Honeywell Building Systems and is not sold through a dealer channel. Customers may want to do some of the IT integration themselves, and this is typically done by “an IT person on their staff.”

The feature set is customized for the customer and it “can be integrated with a variety of software applications whether they’re fire, security or a GPS mapping system.” It is currently installed at about 200 campuses across the country.