ProcessFlows’ Emergency Text Messaging Alert Solution at Merton Council automatically notifies engineers if a power supply fails, a network connection goes down, a server error occurs, or a heating problem is detected.
System Monitoring and Notification via SMS
Merton is a borough in south-west London, England. It was formed under the London Government Act 1963 in 1965 by the merger of the Municipal Borough of Mitcham, the Municipal Borough of Wimbledon and the Merton and Morden Urban District, all formerly within Surrey. The main commercial centres in Merton are Mitcham, Morden and Wimbledon, of which Wimbledon is the largest. Other smaller centres include Raynes Park, Colliers Wood, South Wimbledon, Wimbledon Park and Pollards Hill.
For all councils, maintaining the efficiency of frontline services is a top priority. They need to be operational 100% of the time.
If primary systems and facilities fail, services will be interrupted. It is therefore essential to have a Business Continuity Plan and procedures in place which are specific to the organisation’s unique requirements, so if disaster strikes, business can continue as usual, with minimum disruption.
Merton Council’s IT department plays a key role in making sure that all systems run consistently and smoothly, with no downtime. Procedures that help resolve network outages and troubleshoot performance problems, have to be in place and working 24/7. Alongside these procedures there needs to be a robust, automated notification solution that warns staff of power, server and system problems.
Automatic SMS Alerting
In order to make sure that IT staff are warned of any problems, wherever they may be and at whatever time of the day or night, Merton installed a ProcessFlows SMS Alerting solution, which works alongside various key monitoring systems:
- The Trend Building Energy Management System, which monitors and controls all heating, ventilation and air conditioning
- The APC InfraStruXure Central System, which constantly checks the power supply, temperature and mains services, and identifies any problems
- The TeVista Network Monitoring and Troubleshooting System, which continually checks all disparate network connections, so Merton can keep its network traffic smooth-flowing across the whole organisation
- OpManager, which monitors all Servers on the network
Fail Safe Notifications
If a monitoring system detects a problem, an email is generated and sent out through the SMS server as a text message to the appropriate engineer.
When an internet connection is available, an IP connection is used, if the connection goes down, messages are automatically routed through a GSM modem, ensuring notifications still get through.
A scalable investment
With the SMS gateway in place it was simple for the Council to expand text usage into other departments, without extra investment.
The Leisure and Culture Department are now using SMS to confirm bookings. The Public are able to complete booking requests via the Council’s website, where they can opt to supply a mobile number to receive a text confirmation of the booking. Emma Carnell, who is responsible for hall bookings said, "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 a fast, immediate, accurate and cost effective. For residents, it is instant and unobtrusive."
Full reporting functionality
Anthea Leeds is responsible for monitoring TMS and running the monthly report and statistics on usage. "One of the best features of ProcessFlows' SMS Solution from an IT perspective is the reporting functionality. When we first got the system 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 1500 text messages a month – 17% of these being used by Leisure and Culture to confirm sport facility and hall hire bookings."
"The Text Mesaging Solution is an untroubled system – we never really have to worry or think about it. On the odd occasion when we have had to get in touch with the ProcessFlows tech support team, things have been sorted out straight away – the support guys are great." Anthea Leeds, IT Services, Merton Council