Emergency Notification System
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Rio Hondo Emergency Notification
system, Blackboard Connect?
The Rio Hondo Emergency contact system is a way for the college
to send voice, email, and text messages to you during an
emergency or to provide you with other time sensitive and
critical information. This facility is provided using a service
called Blackboard Connect, which is provided by
the same company that supports the Virtual College Learning
How does the Blackboard Connect system gain access to student
and staff contact information?
If you are a student, the phone and email information you
provided during the application process or during registration
is used to populate the Blackboard Connect database. If you are
an employee, the information you have provided to the Human
Resources Department fulfills the same function.
Blackboard Connect provides an encrypted, online process to
securely import Rio Hondo’s existing data into the school’s
account in a secure and reliable manner. Rio Hondo also updates
the information in its databases with the Blackboard Connect
system on a regular basis.
How do I update my information if it is not correct?
If you are a student, you may update your phone information –
permanent, work, and cell – and your email address(es) by going
After logging in, please navigate to the Personal Information
tab and then select Update addresses and phones.
If you are a faculty or staff member, this information can be
updated by contacting the Human Resources Department and
updating your contact information.
Does Blackboard Connect share the school’s information with
No. Blackboard Connect does not sell, lease, share, or rent
personally identifiable information (names, addresses, phone
numbers, etc.) to any companies or persons outside of Blackboard
Connect or their service providers.
Why does Rio Hondo test Blackboard Connect each semester?
During an actual emergency is never the best time to test
emergency preparedness; hence, the college tests Blackboard
Connect each term to make sure everything is functioning
properly and give administrators, students, faculty, and staff
experience with the system.
How does the Blackboard Connect for Higher Education
notification service work?
The Blackboard Connect service combines the power of the
Internet with the pervasiveness of the telephone. This service
helps college administrators reach out to students and staff
o Voice messages to home phones, work
phones, cell phones, and even emails
o Text messages to cell phones, PDAs and other text-based
o Written messages to e-mail accounts
o Messages to TTY/TDD receiving devices for the hearing
How many calls have been sent through the
Blackboard Connect service?
Blackboard Connect is currently sending 20-25 million
time-sensitive calls per month solely on behalf of government
entities and schools via its Blackboard Connect family of
How many campuses are using the service?
Over 150 campuses are using the Blackboard Connect to send
messages to 1 million students and staff.
Additionally, over 14,000 non-college sites nationwide are using
one of Blackboard Connect services to reach over 9 million
What is multi-modal communication? Are text messages alone
With the Blackboard Connect service, campus officials can reach
their community members in their own voice (at landlines, cell
phones, and via e-mail) and via text messages (at cell phones,
PDAs/other text-receiving devices, e-mail accounts, and TTY/TDD
receiving devices for the hearing impaired).
During a time-sensitive situation, multi-modal communication is
critical as it is a more comprehensive way to reach people in
the environment they may be in at the moment an issue arises.
Communication is sent simultaneously to all available contact
points for each person.
Relying on any single way to reach constituents (whether it is
through just voice calls or just text messages) introduces a
single point of failure. Additionally, text messages to cell
phones, while a great back-up communication medium, are not
stable enough to rely upon solely for time-sensitive
communication. Cellular carriers did not design SMS (Short
Messaging Service) as a reliable medium for transmitting high
volume, time-sensitive communication within geo-centric
communities (such as a college campus). As with any
communication vehicle, it is important to combine voice,
text-messaging, and e-mail to better ensure you can be reached
in as many ways possible.
How has the Blackboard Connect system been used?
The Blackboard Connect system has been used to communicate vital
information when a critical situation has taken place. It is
also used to issue alerts to campus members as outlined in the
Clery Act. Additionally, some campuses use the service for more
routine communication, including communicating during the
admissions process and to alert students to important financial
aid and/or payment deadlines.
What if an emergency occurs and the school can't access the
Internet to send a message?
Each administrator who is authorized to use Blackboard Connect
is given a personal, wallet-sized Emergency Messaging card. In
case of an evacuation or power loss, school administrators can
use the information on this card to send a time-sensitive
notification to all their contacts or to a pre-determined
emergency response team using just a telephone. Blackboard
Connect maintains client care representatives to assist users
24/7/365 should alternative methods be necessary such as
encountered throughout both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane
How long has Blackboard Connect provided this service?
The first Blackboard Connect client sent its first communication
in early 2001. Since then, Blackboard Connect has delivered
hundreds of millions of messages on behalf of schools and public
How can the Blackboard Connect service reach thousands in
The company’s mass notification engine supports the Blackboard
Connect system. Blackboard Connect maintains access to tens of
thousands of phone lines originating from multiple locations
throughout the United States to ensure that its communications
are delivered quickly and efficiently. Moreover, Blackboard
Connect employs sophisticated call throttling logic to identify
the proper schematics needed to deliver calls based upon
whatever congestion the local telecommunications providers are
experiencing at the moment calls are being attempted.