In our second installment of the Blackboard Connect social media integration feature spotlight, we turn to Dundee, MI who uses Blackboard Connect, in conjunction with their Facebook page, to respond to severe weather.
The Village of Dundee, Michigan is about 30 minutes away from Ann Arbor and has a population of about 4,000 residents. The community launched a Facebook page in November of last year, and it has already been “liked” by more than 1,400 fans.
A year ago, Village Trustee Greg Lazette decided to implement the Blackboard Connect service to better communicate with residents and share information, not only about urgent situations, but also for community events and happenings. Starting in April 2010, Lazette has been updating the Village’s Facebook page using Blackboard Connect.
With the Blackboard Connect social media integration feature, keeping residents informed is easier than ever. After a brief training and implementation session, Lazette now sends notification calls using Blackboard Connect and, by simply clicking the appropriate box, he can automatically update the Facebook page with the same message.
“We use the function every time we make a call,” said Lazette. “By sending a combination of messages using a variety of communication platforms, we want to overcome negative perceptions about local government and disprove ideas of folks working behind closed doors. Increased community outreach helps in bridging the gap between local government and residents.”
A quick scan of Dundee's Wall posts on Facebook confirms the conversational nature of the Blackboard Connect notifications. When recent storms led to a tree collapse and road closures, the Village's Blackboard Connect messages were cross-posted on Facebook, and residents could weigh in with supporting information – and even "Like" the message. Dundee also uses the Facebook page to alert the community about upcoming test calls and surveys from Blackboard Connect, as well as to drive residents' enrollment of contact info into the system.
The feedback has been great so far. One resident wrote on Dundee's Wall: "I love the new system it's wonderful to keep us so informed on all that is going on."
When a tornado touched down in the Village of Dundee late in the evening of June 5, the Blackboard Connect system proved invaluable. As the storm brewed, Lazette sent out a message warning of severe weather and urging residents to take cover. Emergency sirens sounded, but with twisters touching down at 11 p.m., the calls reached more than 800 residents as they were delivered directly to their phones — awaking some who were unaware of the cyclone raging out their window.
Once the skies cleared, Lazette utilized the Blackboard Connect system to coordinate recovery and relief efforts for the Village, as well as to reassure residents that the water supply is safe. Using the social media integration function, message and calls are posted directly to the Facebook page, to the delight of residents. In the wake of the tornado, the Village of Dundee’s Facebook page has become a virtual hub for residents to express their gratitude and appreciation to the city officials for their continuous work in restoring and repairing damages.
In an article published in the local newspaper, the Monroe News, Village of Dundee resident, Jen Wheeler said of Blackboard Connect, “I think it’s very important and a great system to have. It gives us a piece of mind that the community is looking [out] for us.”