Merton Council Turns to Text

Merton Council is using SMS technology from ProcessFlows to help maintain primary system continuity. If anything goes wrong with the Council’s primary computer systems, its maintenance engineers are automatically alerted with a text message. The result is that downtime is minimised, and interruptions to frontline services are greatly reduced.

Merton Council has three key monitoring systems: Trend Building Energy Management, which controls all heating, ventilation and air conditioning; APC InfraStruxure Central, which constantly checks the power supply, temperature and mains services; and TeVista Network Monitoring and OpManager for server monitoring. Coupled to these systems is the in-house Microsoft Exchange email environment, which in turn is connected to ProcessFlows’ SMS gateway, Text Message Server (TMS).

As soon as any of the key monitoring systems identifies a problem, an automated email is sent, via SMTP, to Text Message Server. An SMS alert is then automatically generated and sent to the appropriate engineer. As TMS works with almost every business application, Merton Council has been able to easily build on its initial investment, and has now deployed SMS communications in other areas of the organisation.

Anthea Leeds, who is responsible for monitoring TMS in Merton Council’s IT Services department, says: “One of the best features of TMS, from an IT perspective, is the reporting functionality. When we first got TMS for engineer alerts, the number of texts sent in a month was quite low – around 350. As other departments have adopted the technology, the volume of messages has steadily increased and we now use around 1,500 text messages a month – 17 per cent of these being used by Leisure and Culture, to confirm sport facility and hall hire bookings.”

Emma Carnell, who deals with the hall bookings adds: “The uptake of those opting to receive text confirmation for bookings has been very positive and continues to grow. Not all residents have access to email, so texting is a good method of communication for them. From the Council’s perspective, texting is fast, immediate, accurate and cost effective. For residents, it is instant and unobtrusive.”