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Sending Messages for Public Safety

Sending Messages for Public Safety and Emergency Management

In the Public Safety and Emergency Management world, making sure your messages are always delivered and received is incredibly important. There are many different ways to send messages and it can sometimes be confusing and frustrating to know what to do and how to do it. With that in mind, here are the best methods available to Public Safety and Emergency Management services for sending SMS messages.

Cellular Modem
Using a Cellular Modem is the fastest and most reliable way to send SMS messages, regardless of where you are. The cellular modem provides a cellular connection to the computer and the modem is capable of responding to the AT command set. This allows our program to use the cellular modem to send SMS messages just like a cel phone. This is the only method of server based SMS delivery outside of the US, Canada and the UK.

There are a variety of cellular modems made by a variety of companies but the type our end users have had the most success with is this particular line of cellular modem from a company called Multitech:

The specific model you'll want to purchase is directly related to where in the world you are as different areas of the world use different cellular technology and, as such, the hardware required needs to match. The Multitech website has a plethora of information about which specific makes and models are appropriate for what areas, so be sure to consult with them before making any purchase.

There are three internet based protocols that can be used to send text messages: SMTP, SNPP and WCTP.

Unfortunately, most carriers don't provide the most efficient methods of delivery, SNPP and WCTP. Most carriers only provide an Email to SMS function that uses the SMTP protocol for message delivery. This is often times the least reliable protocol to use because it's not point to point communication. Which is to say, when you send a message using the SMTP protocol, you're actually relaying through a series of servers rather than transmitting your message directly to the destination server or device.

There are, however, three notable exceptions to this: Verizon, Sprint and AT&T Verizon provides a service they refer to as their EMAG System. The Verizon EMAG system provides access to their SNPP and WCTP hosts. For non-Public Safety and Emergency Management Systems, they do charge a monthly or annual fee. However, they provide access to these gateway for free to Public Safety and Emergency Management Services. To register with their EMAG System, you'll need to contact your city, county or state's Verizon Account Representative. The Verizon Account Representative will then provide a special number and a PDF form that must be filled out and submitted. Once the registration is complete, you can begin using their expedited hosts.

Sprint provides a service they refer to as their Enterprise Messaging Gateway (EMG). They do require you to register with their gateway in order to use it and as long as you're only sending to personnel within your organization, they don't charge for it. To register with the Sprint EMG, you can go to this site:

AT&T provides a service they refer to as their Enterprise Paging Network (EPN). Unlike Verizon and Sprint, however, the end user whose cellphone needs to be messaged must contact AT&T and request that the EPN function be added to their phone. Also, unlike the other carriers, AT&T will charge the end user a monthly fee for having their phone listed on the EPN. As far as we are aware, and the information AT&T has provided with regards to their EPN is limited. We would recommend contacting AT&T directly for more information.

Every major carrier still supports a modem based method of SMS delivery called TAP. TAP can be, and often is, an important component of Public Safety and Emergency Management messaging systems. Using our software, PageGate, you can configure a failover function so that in the event your internet connection goes down or is unavailable, our software can immediately start using a modem or series of modems to dial directly in to the TAP messaging gateways for the major carriers. While the message delivery speed is slightly slower than the internet based protocols, sending messages via the TAP protocol is one of the most reliable ways of delivering messages. All you need is a dial-up modem with a phone line plugged in to it attached to the PageGate system.

For specific steps on how to configure any of these methods within our software, feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to help you however we can.

About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage, Inc. a software company for communication software solutions.

System Requirements  
  Processor   Pentium 500 mhz or better
  Memory  128 Mb of RAM
(typically 256 Mb total memory for Win 2000, XP, 2003, or 1 Gig for Vista)
  Hard Drive   50 Mb Hard Drive Free (for application & database)
  Connectivity 300 baud or faster modem for dialup connections
serial cable for direct connections or a
dedicated Internet connection
 Operating System   Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista (32 bit)



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