The MessageNet Blog

Get The Message Out!

How to Reset User Passwords

If you are a user of the MessageNet system but not the system administrator and have forgotten your MessageNet password, please contact your on-site system administrator for a password reset. For security reasons, MessageNet support staff are unable to manage users or reset passwords.

For on-site system administrators, to reset a user’s password, log in to the MessageNet Connections administrative interface, click on the Other Screens tab, and select User Database Manager. Your own user profile will appear as the default. To navigate to another user’s profile, you can click Browse and search through the full list of users, or you can enter the user’s surname into the Last Name field and click Find.

sample user database manager

If there are multiple users with the same last name, you may need to click Next until you find the correct one. Once you are at the correct user profile, change the password, click Save, and then give the updated password to the user, who can then change it again if needed once they have successfully logged in.

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How to Log In to MessageNet Connections

MessageNet Connections is browser-based on PCs and on Android devices (while the mobile app for Apple devices has been released, the Android version is still in progress, so a web browser must be used on Android devices until the app is released), so to log in, navigate to any web browser and enter the MessageNet server’s IP address (or dns host name, if your organization uses that instead). You may need to obtain this information from your on-site MessageNet system administrator. Once you have navigated to the log in screen, the MessageNet logo will appear.

MessageNet splash screen

Click anywhere on the logo and the sign in window will pop up. If it does not, you may need to allow pop ups from that address. Enter your user name and password into the appropriate text boxes. If you do not know your user name and password, check with your on-site system administrator. For security reasons, MessageNet support staff cannot manage user accounts or reset passwords.

To log in to the administrative interface, click the Connections button. To log in to the Connections Mobile user interface, click on the Connections Mobile button. Some web browsers offer the option to save your log in information so you don’t have to type it in every time. If you choose to do this, the button for Connections Mobile may appear grayed out. If this is the case, simply click in the password text box and the Connections Mobile button will become clickable.

MessageNet log in window

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How to Apply the Intel Security Patch

If your MessageNet server is a black 4U server, it has an AMD processor in it and is not affected by the recent Intel security flaws. However, if your server is a newer silver 1U Dell server, then the processor is by Intel and may be affected by the security flaws. Any patches to fix this issue would be at the hardware level, provided by Dell on their website, and would therefore need to be applied directly on the server by someone on-site and cannot be done remotely by MessageNet support staff. Note: It is possible that applying a patch may cause the server to slow down by up to 40%.

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How to Back Up Server Data

In order to avoid risking lost data in the event of a server failure, it’s very important to have a complete backup of all of the MessageNet server’s data. Because every customer’s system, network, and organization are different, MessageNet cannot provide or suggest a backup method. However you decide to back up your data, however, it’s important to backup everything, as data restoration may be impossible without a full backup. A full backup includes everything in the server’s root partition and home partition. The paths for these two partitions are:




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Best Practices for a Safe Environment

Last week, I wrote about how important it is to have a plan for emergency events. More lives are saved when a plan is in place and everyone knows what to do, rather than simply reacting to the situation.
The Council of Educational Facilities Planners International have released Safe Schools: A Best Practices Guide, for that very reason. The guide, available in PDF form for free online, emphasizes the need for communication in a crises. In fact, page 7 of the guide is titled Crisis Communications.
The guide lists recommended devices, including PA, cameras, multiple communication devices, broadcast messaging, and a plan, all of which MessageNet Connections can provide. We go a step further, however, and use the emergency system for everyday communications as well, to ensure that users won’t forget how to use the system before an emergency happened.

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Don’t Be Surprised by Emergencies

While everyone hopes that emergency situations don’t arise, it’s important to not let one take you by surprise. According to Campus Security Magazine, your emergency alert system is ‘only as good as your plan’.

Having a plan in place for any possible emergency situations is important and can save lives. However, Campus Security also believes in testing your emergency communication system regularly. Though they see this practice as a requirement to ensure your system works properly if and when an emergency arises, it can involve considerable time and expense for your organization. Eliminating this cost is why MessageNet Connections isn’t designed to be just an emergency system. It’s also designed for every day communication; when used daily, users won’t forget how to use it in between emergencies and so that it’s effectively tested every day via constant use.

The article also discusses many different systems without talking about how they might work together. MessageNet Connections can integrate with many different types of systems, so it’s easier to unify communications and emergency alerts, rather than having many different emergency systems for different scenarios.

One integrated system that is used every day can save lives more easily and be cost-effective and more efficient at the same time.

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Prepare For the Worst

All technology eventually fails. Cars, phones, tablets, computers, even MessageNet servers.

MessageNet Connections, which is often heavily relied upon for both everyday and emergency communications, is software and web browser-based. However, the hardware that supports it unfortunately cannot last forever. Many customers that have been with MessageNet for many years and have much older servers find that their hardware begins to fail; and the way they’ve got their system set up means that until they can purchase a new server, they’re completely without MessageNet services. In addition, if the server failure stems from the hard-drive, data may not be recoverable and the customer would have to start from scratch.

It’s important to have the right setup to protect data. MessageNet usually recommends having a redundant server setup so that if one server fails, there’s a second one to act as back-up. However, this isn’t always possible, so instead keeping a saved copy of the MessageNet hard-drive can prevent data loss and decrease down-time if a new server is needed.

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Why Unify Safety, Security & Communcations

MessageNet Connections unifies safety, security, and communications systems where so many other products provide just one of these. Why is the unification of these systems so important?

  • Users only have to log in to one system to control and send messages to any connected device, whether it’s for safety, security, or every day communications. In addition, as a unified system, three user interfaces are replaced by just one, reducing training and increasing user confidence with the system.
  • Because they’re connected, devices don’t have to compete to be heard. With Connections, an emergency message will pause any other messages so it’s guaranteed to reach people in a timely fashion.
  • Too often, an emergency system goes un-needed for so long that people forget how to use it. Connections is used for both emergency and every day communications, so when an emergency situation arises, users are already familiar with the system from using it every day, so they can respond more quickly.
  • Because the unification of safety, security, and communication facilitates daily use, it improves the return on investment (ROI) and combines multiple capabilities provided by MessageNet Systems and the spectrum of systems it connects to. Daily use continuously verifies that the systems are always maintained to a state of verified readiness without incurring the expense of periodic formal systems testing that is necessary with systems not subjected to daily use.
  • Unifications of safety, security, and commmunications also shares hardware and software resources across these technology platforms, increasing synergies while reducing cost.
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Using Web Links in Emergency Messaging

The internet can be a powerful messaging tool, especially when it comes to getting specific information out to specific people in an emergency situation. MessageNet Connections can provide links to web pages that pop up and load on PCs when the message is sent. This type of message can also be sent to LCD digital signage screens via Mediaport controllers.

This capability is important because it gives organizations the ability to provide everyone with the specific instructions that they need rather than general information that is not specific enough to be actionable or may not apply to everyone. These messages can be created and saved in advance, so different types of emergencies can be planned sumo suits For example, if there is a severe weather emergency, the national weather service webpage can be displayed on LCD screens, while specific relevant sections of an online emergency preparedness manual can pop up on the computers of the emergency response or security team.

Displaying a webpage on an LCD screen can be easily set up in advance as a media message with web page selected as the media type, this can be set up in the Hyperlink section of the message editor. To pop a web page up on a computer, PC Alert has to be resident on computers receiving the message. If you elect, the MessageNet support staff can manage this process for you or instruct your staff in its application.

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Why is Clery Act Compliance Still a Problem?

With a daughter about to leave for college, I began to look into the Jeanne Clery Act. Professionally, I was surprised, and as a parent extremely concerned, that even after almost 25 years since its enactment, compliance to the Clery Act remains a problem across many U.S. campuses. A safe learning environment should be a right for any college student or employee. Why is compliance such an issue when there are solutions easily available?

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act, signed into law in 1990 and originally known as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, places numerous and intensive reporting requirements on colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs. These requirements include the following zorb balls canada:

  • Issuing “timely” warnings of crimes that represent a serious or ongoing threat to the safety of all students and campus employees.
  • Publish and distribute an Annual Campus Security Report to all current and prospective students and employees.
  • Devise emergency response, notification, testing policies and publish these policies in their Annual Campus Security Report.
  • Compile and report fire data and publish annual fire safety reports.
  • Maintain a public crime log of the most recent 8 years, disclosing crime statistics for eight major categories (Criminal Homicide, Sexual Offenses, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Arson, Motor Vehicle theft, and Arrests and/or disciplinary referrals for Liquor-law; Drug-law; and illegal weapons possession violations)
  • Enact policies and procedures to handle reports of missing students.

Many emergency communication systems have proven ineffective for mass notification of ‘timely’ warnings during an emergency as these systems are reliant on mass dial to cell phones, which depends on the capacity of the cellular towers servicing the area. These towers are designed to meet the needs of normal daily communications, far less than the volume required during an emergency. When tower capacity is exceeded, messages are delayed and even discarded by the cellular service due to the ‘bottleneck’ of outgoing bandwidth.

MessageNet Connections is an on-site, network-based, emergency communications systems; it doesn’t have the capacity limitations of mass dialing and texting systems and can deliver thousands of messages simultaneously. Additionally, Connections can provide location-specific messages instead of a ‘blanket’ message as well as specific instructions in relation to the event or emergency. Location-specific messaging can save lives by providing unique directions to individuals to seek safety with respect to the location of the danger at hand.

MessageNet Connections also provides detailed logs of all messages, including both emergency notifications and daily communications. This information trail is very helpful in meeting Clery Act requirements for compiling and publishing annual security reports.

Lastly, MessageNet Connections integrates both a daily communication system with an emergency notification system. Staff become very comfortable sending and receiving messages since it’s part of day-to-day operations. In the event of an emergency, staff members will react and respond quicker because they are very familiar with operating the system as part of their daily work. Minutes saved at a critical time can minimize dangers and save lives.

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