The company’s goal is to provide government agencies, universities, nonprofit groups and others with a way to disseminate information, particularly in emergency situations where getting the news out quickly can save lives. For example, Tufts University hired Send Word Now to implement an alert system last year in the wake of Virginia Tech shooting. In a test earlier this month, Tufts was able to send out more than 46,000 alerts — SMS text messages, emails and phone calls, usually reaching each person through multiple avenues — in less than 10 minutes. Other customers include Wal-Mart, Boston University and the U.S. Postal Services, according to Forbes.
The system can be automated, which could lead to faster, almost-immediate alerts when disasters hit. It’s not a one-way communication system, either, because Send Word Now can also ask alert recipients to respond, for example to confirm that they’re all right, and then alert authorities about who hasn’t responded yet.
There are other companies trying to meet similar needs. Many, however, are more focused on alerting friends and family when you’re in trouble (rather than notifying a huge group of people about an emergency that could affect all of them) such as Life360, which is one of 10 companies that won Google’s Android Developer Challenge in August.
Others have used the micro-messaging service Twitter to spread information in times of crisis. For example, Twitter has been used during numerous earthquakes in California and also during the fires that threatened Southern California last year.