Why We Don’t Use an Email Gateway for Text Alerts

Yesterday there were tornadoes and other severe weather throughout the midwest, south and southwest.  But this tweet: “Had an EF2 hit just west of me in Fargo, and our house didn’t get the reverse 911 call until the warning expired” means that at least some people didn’t get the alert in time.

Some emergency alert providers use an email gateway to send their text message alerts.  That’s a mistake.  Many users on the web report delays when using email gateways.  We’ve seen reports of delays of up to 3 days for some messages.  Even the carriers acknowledge the delays.  And some folks claim that many fewer messages get through.

Email to SMS/text is free, which makes it appealing to companies to use this service. But if you need your message to go out quickly and reliably, you need an emergency alert company that uses an SMS aggregator.  Hyper-Reach uses two separate such aggregators so we have redundancy in our network.

Here’s a clue to whether the alert company uses an email gateway: if they ask for the mobile carrier in their registration form, then they probably use an email gateway.  That’s because the email address has to specify the carrier.  Two exceptions to this are our form and the US National Emergency Alert Registry.  In both cases, it’s because we may have to pass the registration information on to another alert provider, and since some of them need the information, we ask it of everyone.

But we want your alerts to go out ASAP, so we NEVER use an email gateway for SMS/text messages.