Text (SMS) Messaging at the Church

Discussions around miscellaneous technologies and projects for the general membership.
crisa
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#11

Post by crisa »

I am the ward clerk and have been contemplating the use of texting for the ward (most especially for emergencies) but I have some questions...

Not everyone has free / unlimited texting, right? How is information collected about whether people use texts? As a clerk I could use a custom field, but it seems that everyone here that has talked about using it, uses it more as an individual basis? Or is it assumed that if people have a cell phone they text?
russellhltn
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#12

Post by russellhltn »

crisa wrote:Not everyone has free / unlimited texting, right?
Correct. And it some cases it may be turned off.

And with smart phones, they may have just a good a access to email.
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techgy
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#13

Post by techgy »

The use of texting for emergencies would have a limited success, depending upon the type of emergency. In most emergencies the cell phone and land-line networks become so crowded with calls that the systems are unavailable. So getting through in an emergency would be difficult and often delayed.

On the other hand, using texting as another means of communication in the ward would be helpful, but it should be used in conjunction with other methods. I would also have to believe that a fair percentage of cell phone users do not use texting or even have it enabled. Personally I can get much more information across in a 60 second phone call, than I can in texting ;)
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russellhltn
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#14

Post by russellhltn »

Techgy wrote:The use of texting for emergencies would have a limited success, depending upon the type of emergency. In most emergencies the cell phone and land-line networks become so crowded with calls that the systems are unavailable.
Well, that's true of most any mode of communication. But texting will typically get though on a overloaded network when a phone call will not. Think of it as the difference between sending a short email vs trying to do a skype call. In addition to the smaller bandwidth, the phone will do some of the work of getting the message though while most any disruption will kill a phone call. And that's ignoring the logistics of trying to get two people available and with working phones at the same time.

If the phone system is completely out, then nothing cell will work.
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kisaac
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What about the costs?

#15

Post by kisaac »

crisa wrote:Not everyone has free / unlimited texting, right?.....Or is it assumed that if people have a cell phone they text?
I have a limited amount of txts on my cell plan, shared amoungst my wife and teenage daughter. So, if ward members just assume I've got an unlimited plan, or one of us started receiving "bulk" msgs, it could cost me a lot of money! How would I tell church members that although our phones will receive the messages, I may be paying dearly for them? My mother-in-law got a surprise 200$ over-charge for a daughters over-use of txt one month.
kisaac
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another txt use...birthday notifications to bishopric

#16

Post by kisaac »

a neighboring wards exec sec notifies his bishop via txt of ward members birthdays with phone number so the bishop is reminded and gives them a quick personal call on their special day.

We've contemplated automating a similar process, setting up a google calendar with each event being a ward members birthday, or important event, and setting up txt notifications to txt the bishops phone automatically on each ward members birthday.

(technical process: convert birthday list to csv, modify for importing to google calendar as events with name and phone number as event description or title, set up bishopric account/calendar with google so the bishops phone gets the sms txt notification....it could work)

It's a pity the new lds beta calendar doesn't support notifications...yet. How about lds beta calendar giving automatic txt notification reminders about interviews or tithing settlement sign-ups to members?
kennethjorgensen
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#17

Post by kennethjorgensen »

kisaac wrote:I have a limited amount of txts on my cell plan, shared amoungst my wife and teenage daughter. So, if ward members just assume I've got an unlimited plan, or one of us started receiving "bulk" msgs, it could cost me a lot of money! How would I tell church members that although our phones will receive the messages, I may be paying dearly for them?
Are you saying that there are mobile phone plans where it cost you to receive messages too?
russellhltn
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#18

Post by russellhltn »

dkjorgi wrote:Are you saying that there are mobile phone plans where it cost you to receive messages too?
I have a old plan like that.
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Mikerowaved
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#19

Post by Mikerowaved »

dkjorgi wrote:Are you saying that there are mobile phone plans where it cost you to receive messages too?
Yup. I'm with AT&T and unless you prepay for a block of messages (or unlimited) it's 10¢ a pop to send or receive a text message. There are exceptions, like AT&T billing reminders and I believe public safety messages you subscribe to, like Amber Alerts.

Obviously, like everything, this will change over time as companies struggle to compete with each other, but that's what it is today.
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techgy
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#20

Post by techgy »

Mikerowaved wrote:Yup. I'm with AT&T and unless you prepay for a block of messages (or unlimited) it's 10¢ a pop to send or receive a text message....
It's the same thing with Verizon. You pay as you go or else pay the $5/month to have unlimited texting. Personally, I seldom ever use it.
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