The What, Why, How of Call Alerts: Be Emergency Ready

November 13, 2018

During business emergencies, two things become important. The first is making sure that all the stakeholders receive timely information about the crisis at hand and the second is to move fast and work on a solution. We live in an era of constant “pings” and alerts. Our phones smart or otherwise have taken over our lives, with spam becoming the new norm. In such a scenario, how can businesses ensure that they can reach the right people at the right time.

Factors to consider before setting up an alerting system

Businesses should consider two primary factors before they zero in on an emergency alerting system:

  • The reliability of the system – A system that is used to send out critical alerts needs to be reliable. Unforeseen downtimes or availability of the system makes it unsuitable for this kind of application.
  • Picking the right alerting method – Depending on the speed and the urgency with which you would like the person to respond, the decision about the alerting system needs to be made. For example, for information that is just good to know, SMS or emails work just fine because these do not require immediate attention or action. In the case of an emergency where the response time is of the essence, calls are the right way to go. A phone call is the right amount of intrusive to elicit a response.

Why cloud telephony works well

If a business has to decide based on the two factors mentioned above, cloud telephony is the best bet for a variety of reason:

  • Superior uptimes
  • Information can be conveyed to multiple people at one go
  • Acknowledgment of the receipt of information passed can be tracked
  • Easy to set up and manage
  • Scalable without any effort from the business’ end
  • Cost-effective

This article intends to throw light on different scenarios where cloud telephony has helped power emergency call alerting system.

1.Alerting doctors and hospitals in case of emergencies

Healthcare is one sector where any negligence has potentially life threatening implications. The most crucial factor in the case of emergency medical care is time. Delay of even a few minutes can turn out to be the difference between life and death. At Exotel, we work with a few hospitals that have used technology to improve their response time and efficiency for emergency and trauma care.

In the case of an emergency or a trauma, someone who is with the patient or the paramedics from an ambulance call the hospital with information about the patient and their emergency. The hospital then has to spend precious minutes trying to locate the relevant doctors and medical technicians to ensure that they are ready to go when the patient reaches the hospital.

Once the information is collected from the person calling in with the emergency, doctors are alerted.

SMS example:  “This is an alert for a patient with suspected Acute STEMI or Acute Stroke who has presented to the Accident & Emergency. Kindly mobilize the resources from your concerned department urgently to avoid time delays. Thank you”

How does it help?

  • Faster response time by the doctors
  • Better knowledge of the emergency before the patient even reaches the hospital
  • More streamlined communication

2. Tracking employee safety during natural disasters

During times of natural disasters, it is important for organisations to be able to keep a tab of its employees and to ensure their wellbeing. As we have all seen (and some of us have unfortunately experienced), communication is the first victim of natural disasters. Especially the internet. Not everyone can even get to Facebook’s “mark as safe” feature. So, how can a company do this using the most basic technology? The humble phone call.

How the call flow works

How does it help?

  • Real-time information about employee safety
  • If a call is unanswered or if someone requires assistance, an automated call or SMS can be placed to the head of security or the relevant authority in the organisation
  • Low tech and reliable

3. Automatic vehicle accident alert system (IoT)

An automatic alerting system is a life saving technology that can directly alert a family member and/or the nearest available medical care in the unfortunate event of an accident.

How the call flow works

How does it help?

  • Immediate action can be taken and no time is wasted because of lack of knowledge
  • These few minutes can be the difference between life and death

While we are on the topic of IoT, we had an interesting hack that a team of students built using Exotel. The hack was to build a device that could potentially detect a fall and alert the primary caregiver through an automated call. (Hello, Apple watch! The Hackstreet Boys got here before you. #justsaying)

4. Alerts for website downtimes and tech monitoring

In 2015, Exotel acquired a voice-based social platform called!. When! was in its initial stages, they had a massive spike of users one weekend and the platform went down because it couldn’t handle the load. But the founders were not aware of it till they came back to business on Monday. Imagine this nightmare happening with an established business. At Exotel, in the case of a downtime, we use a simple phone call (what did we say about Dogfooding, eh?) to alert our engineers and our customer happiness team to ensure that we get on the problem right away.

How the call flow works

How does it help?

  • Timely detection of the issue saves the business a lot of trouble and loss
  • Alerting the right stakeholders without any time delay

Takeaway (aka TL;DR)

A phone call is taken for granted, and often gets the bad rap. It is often thought of as the means with which a pesky marketing team sitting with a headset glued to their ears very far away bombard you with calls.

But what drives all of us who build the so-called boring technology is how it has a real and visible impact of the people around us. The scenarios we’ve mentioned are just thought starters. During any kind of emergency, there is only one thing that works with respect to communication and bringing people the assistance they require – keeping it simple.

Here’s what we mean by that

  • Finding a system that has high availability
  • A process that works without having to think much when the emergency strikes
  • A technology that is as simple as possible


Gayatri Krishnamoorthy
Written By
Gayatri's fascination for all things digital led her to work at Google after a degree in physics. Now, many years later, she has dabbled in marketing, business development, account management, research, insights mining, social media management and whatnot! Right now, she's heading Inbound Marketing at Exotel and runs home at 5 to be with her son. She's also a wannabe food blogger and photographer.

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