• Could a Selfie be the Future of Safe Campus Entry?

    At PunchAlert, we are fortunate to work with all sorts of wonderful organizations and communities. This ranges from private and public schools and districts to colleges and universities, places of worship, YMCAs, financial institutions, government organizations and large corporate campuses. Our value proposition is the same for them all – make communication during an emergency more efficient so people can get help and safety information faster. Then something happened…. Covid-19. By the thousands, these types of organizations shut down or went remote, leaving their campuses empty. So the critical question on everyone’s mind is “How can we re-open safely?” In working closely with a handful of terrific customers, we have developed a solution called SENTRY.

    The goal of Sentry is to provide any organization the ability to create a process for allowing employees or visitors to enter your campus safely without any hardware or breach of social distancing. Sentry allows you to customize the questions you need to ask every day to your community, and then optionally you can require people submit a Selfie (A Selfie is a photograph of ones self… for those of you still confused) . Why a Selfie? No, this is not Instagram. A selfie in Sentry is a terrific way to get someone to confirm that they took their own temperature (show the thermometer in the picture) or that they are wearing a mask. Once a user passes the questionnaire and submits their selfie, they get a Sentry Pass which can be scanned for validity upon entry into the building. The scans can also check people in and out as they come and go so the venue always has an accurate view of who is on campus. Here’s what one customer has to say about Sentry:

    “I would like to thank the PunchAlert team for developing SENTRY! PunchAlert’s customer service has been above and beyond our expectations during the development of SENTRY. SENTRY is a tool within our University’s mass notification system. We have been an ongoing customer of Punch Alert for several years. Their ongoing response to our needs has been paramount!”

    -John Hoebee, Chief of Campus Safety at Arizona Christian University

    Sentry is available within PunchAlert, and it’s also available as a stand-alone product and mobile application at sentrypass.io. Whether you have 5 people or 5,000 people, Sentry is extremely simple and you can get it up and running in minutes without any training required. Give it a try today and let us know what you think. Maybe a selfie can keep your campus safe as well!

    Did you know?

    Other ways you can use the PunchAlert platform during the pandemic:

    • Announcements – Organizations like Georgia Poison Center use PunchAlert to mass notify (via SMS among other channels) their public about updates and critical information regarding Covid-19 in the State of Georgia. Learn more or sign up here: https://www.georgiapoisoncenter.org/poisons/in-the-news/alerts-recent-trends/covid-19/
    • 911+ – This critical e911 infrastructure is growing as many companies are integrating this functionality into their own products and services. A great example is our new home phone service provider Obihai (owned by Poly) where 911+ is the new official e911 provider for the service. Learn more at https://www.punchalert.com/911plus/obi
    • Rescue – This water-activated panic button system will be delivered to our first YMCA customers in December and with pools open, this couldn’t be more timely. As re-openings continue and panic button regulations spread throughout many industries, we expect this hardware to be a critical component of our growth going forward. Learn more about Rescue at https://www.punchalert.com/rescue
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  • The Georgia Poison Center and Georgia Department of Health Partner with PunchAlert to Distribute Critical Intelligence To Citizens

    Georgia Poison Center


    During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Agencies and Large Organizations Realize that SMS is the Most Effective and Ubiquitous Way to Engage Community Stakeholders. 

    CHARLOTTE, NC, April 17, 2020 – In early March, as the Coronavirus pandemic continued its aggressive spread throughout the United States, agencies in Georgia realized a pressing need to communicate effectively with its citizens. After relying initially on social media and websites alone, they understood that critical, reliable information was simply not reaching the number of people they had hoped.  The Georgia Poison Center took lead on finding a solution that met their unique engagement requirements, which led them to PunchAlert.  

    Organizations like Georgia Poison Center have discovered that the best way to engage their community stakeholders is through SMS. Text messaging has been around for almost two decades, and yet it remains the most ubiquitous way to reach people in a channel where they will actually pay attention. As social media and apps have flourished, there is simply too much information that gets distributed, therefore creating the problem of deciphering signal from noise. During the Covid-19 outbreak, the Georgia Poison Center is leveraging the interactive SMS capabilities of PunchAlert to allow citizens to sign up for any lists that they need and receive all their announcements entirely over SMS. Then, for those interested in further engagement or context, the Georgia Poison Center is directing citizens to download the PunchAlert app and also view additional intelligence on their various websites, some of which have been created and hosted by PunchAlert.  

    “Working with Punch is almost like I have another IT Team in the office suite. We call, and they answer. We question, and they respond. We want something done, and in the blink of an eye they’re developing it. They understand how we need to use it in our environment and they work to customize it for us,” Georgia Poison’s Director, Dr. Gaylord P. Lopez PharmD, DABAT, said.

    PunchAlert was able to develop a fully customized solution to meet the needs of the Georgia Poison Center that can quickly and easily be duplicated for other health care centers across the country.  This partnership has already been expanded to the Georgia Department of Public Health, similarly looking to leverage PunchAlert to provide the latest alerts, information and recommendations from local governmental officials.

    Dr. Lopez is excited for the future of the program, and looks forward to sharing their results, “We could not be happier. PunchAlert made sure the SMS technology worked to its fullest capability and specifically for our purposes. They have been fantastic and when we show it off to other poison centers the work is already done, Punch already has it built.”

    Dr. Lopez continued that “in a world that is bombarded with social media intrusions, some of them we don’t know if we can trust, when you don’t go the traditional routes and you go with other systems there is more validity that comes out of using this type of media.”

    PunchAlert, the leading platform in safety communication solutions gives organizations the ability to launch SMS and mobile safety application services quickly and easily. Reach out and contact the PunchAlert team to see how you can streamline your communication and engage efficiently with your community. For more details visit www.punchalert.com.


    About Punch Technologies, Inc.

    Punch Technologies is a Charlotte, North Carolina-based software company, and creator of the PunchAlert safety communications platform. PunchAlert gets you help and information faster by relying on the people, organizations, and official responders in your area. It is the only all-in-one mobile safety, emergency management and mass notification platform. Now with 911+, Punch enables the next generation of connectivity to 100 percent of the 911 call centers in the US and Canada via the PunchAlert app or 3rd party API’s (911+ Connect) for other service providers or product developers.

    For more information visit www.punchalert.com

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  • Planning for COVID-19 (coronavirus) as an Enterprise

    Lately, it seems difficult to carry on a conversation without mention of the coronavirus. We all know that this pandemic is starting its spread throughout the United States as it has many other countries, and this is likely to continue. Of course, nobody knows exactly how this will play out, so we are all hearing a wide range of outcomes from the very mild to the terribly ominous. But even in the most optimistic scenario, this virus is clearly going to affect the mindset of every employee, customer, or community member of your organization. Today, we’d like to share some of our thoughts at PunchAlert on what you can do as an organization.

    Our recommendation is to be extremely proactive in your outreach and communications. Over the last week, we have seen a significant increase in both the usage of our product and the focus on expanded rollouts across the globe. Below are some ideas on how you can use a product like ours to engage your employee or customer community while Covid-19 lingers as a concern:

    ANNOUNCEMENTS – Send periodic or daily announcements on a number of topics and leverage the interactive features (comments, yes/no surveys, location requests) to create an informed two-way conversation:

    1. Travel Policy – Inform employees of the current travel policy including whether overseas or national travel is permitted or on hold. If relevant, list all approved travel locations or off-limit sites.
    2. Conferences – Inform employees of your policy on upcoming conferences and whether any should be specifically avoided.
    3. Working from home – Remind employees if this is allowed, encouraged, or required on an office-by-office basis.
    4. Status Checks – Send announcements with Yes/No questions or Location requests to get a sense of where your folks are at a given time in relation to the current threats of the virus. This could inform your next decisions regarding forcing certain employees to self-quarantine or otherwise.
    5. Reporting Policy – Inform employees, customers, or community members how they should report a potential illness (their own or someone else) that may be a risk to others in the organization. Our recommendation is to create Tip Categories for this very sort of thing. Remind everyone that they can also use the Red Emergency Button if they feel there is a more urgent need to either get someone isolated or get them immediate medical attention.

    EMERGENCY PLANS – Create a variety of emergency plans related to the virus and upload them to PunchAlert. Then send out announcements informing people where they can find these plans (in the Explore tab by pressing the Organization name). In the event of an outbreak at an office, an emergency can be reported and the appropriate plan for that office will be distributed. This could help with safe evacuation procedures, for example.

    TIPS – As mentioned, we recommend creating tip categories for people to feel comfortable reporting a potential illness to the organization. This does not have to be limited to coronavirus. Anonymous reporting can be enabled, and the tip category can be kept private with only a limited number of tip responders being notified (to limit unnecessary panic). Everyone should feel safe reporting their own potential illness or someone else in proximity that may be a carrier of the virus. Crowdsourcing intelligence is absolutely critical!

    EMERGENCIES – Of course, this is at the discretion of the individual and your own policy as an organization. We recommend that you do not set too high a bar for reporting an emergency. Remind people that reporting an emergency only notifies the responder team, not the entire organization or even 911 unless 911+ is used. Once the internal responder team is aware of the incident, they can decide about making mass notifications. Please use this as a valuable tool should you need to empower your leadership to make fast, informed decisions. This will also open a 2-way chat amongst your responder team which includes 911 calling awareness (with 911+). All of this can be critical to a fast response.

    We’d love to get your thoughts as well. Please share how you might use PunchAlert as well as other technologies at your disposal to prepare for the spread of this virus. It is our privilege to work with such a wonderful community of people that deeply care about the safety of your constituents. Thank you for your support, and please, please… stay safe and healthy!

    Best regards,
    Greg Artzt

    Co-founder, CEO, Punch Technologies, Inc.

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  • PunchAlert And 911+ Support Charlotte During Tornado Threat


    Offering local organizations the ability to quickly and efficiently respond to natural disasters

    (Charlotte, North Carolina), (February 11, 2020) – On February 6, 2020, a Tornado moved quickly through the heart of the city over a two-hour window, forcing schools, organizations, and businesses to coordinate a fast response. While many organizations scrambled to manage the situation, those that utilize the PunchAlert safety communications platform were able to efficiently and effectively respond to the natural disaster.

    Punch has a significant presence in the Charlotte area, working with most of the private schools in the city (and some public), places of worship, YMCA’s, public venues, sports teams, commercial real-estate hubs, large companies, colleges and more.

    According to Punch’s anonymized data from February 6th, over 50 distinct customer organizations at separate locations used the platform with over 16,000 individual users, handling 35 emergencies with active 2-way discussion and mass notifications for each, sending 41 announcements (non-emergency alerts), and making 21 calls to 911+™.

    “As a Charlotte-based company, it was very important that we gain critical customer mass here, not only because it’s our home, but because the more local organizations that use the technology, the more effective it becomes,” said Greg Artzt, co-founder and CEO of Punch Technologies.

    The 911+ calls placed during this incident allowed individuals to create real-time awareness amongst colleagues that 911 was in fact called. This alleviated redundant pressure on the 911 call centers in Charlotte that were already receiving an abundance of calls and overload on their operation during the storm. 911+ also carries a number of other benefits including precise location awareness critical for routing an emergency to the nearest call center and simultaneous notifications to family members when appropriate.

    “With the help of Punch Alert, YMCA of Greater Charlotte was able to send mass communication to our staff, allowing for quick and effective activation of our emergency response action plans at 15 YMCA facilities throughout the region,” said Christy Priester, YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s association executive director of risk management. “Being able to activate our action plans on a large scale at multiple locations allowed our members, volunteers and team members to quickly get to safe areas.”

    Artzt concluded from the incident: “It is our great privilege to work so closely with our partners across the country and especially in our home community of Charlotte. We will work diligently to continue learning from these partners in improving our platform so that we are even better prepared for the next similar incident that may follow.”


    What’s Next at Punch

    Punch Technologies is also releasing a wearable, internet-connected, panic button product that connects to PunchAlert called Rescue. The new wearable platform, which comes with a base station and charging station, aims to set a new standard for reliability and performance during an emergency situation. YMCA’s in particular, have been pre-ordering the system across the country due to a very compelling, unique feature – the device automatically activates an emergency when submerged in water.

    About Punch Technologies, Inc.

    Punch Technologies is a Charlotte, North Carolina-based software company, and creator of the PunchAlert safety communications platform. PunchAlert gets you help and information faster by relying on the people, organizations, and official responders in your area. It is the only all-in-one mobile safety, emergency management and mass notification platform. Now with 911+, Punch enables the next generation of connectivity to 100 percent of the 911 call centers in the US and Canada via the PunchAlert app or 3rd party API’s (911+ Connect) for other service providers or product developers.

    For more information visit www.punchalert.com

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  • Johnson Controls and Punch Technologies, Inc. collaborate to deliver safety communication technology


    All-in-one safety communications platform offers businesses faster, more effective emergency management and communication

    (Charlotte, North Carolina), (July 26, 2019) – Punch Technologies, Inc. and Johnson Controls have finalized an agreement to bring an innovative safety communications platform to market. The platform, which can be integrated into businesses’ existing security systems, provides the opportunity to more easily and effectively communicate with employees, emergency responders and other surrounding businesses in the event of an emergency incident. Under the terms of the agreement, Johnson Controls will be the primary distributor of PunchAlert by Punch Technologies, Inc.

    “Our partnership with Johnson Controls is a tremendous step forward and is an opportunity for us to partner with a global leader in safety,” said Greg Artzt, Co-founder and CEO of Punch Technologies, Inc. “We will build on this exciting relationship to deliver safety communications for a wide range of public and private enterprises, first responders, campuses, and communities.”

    “In today’s always-evolving landscape of emergency events, it’s critical for businesses to have the necessary tools to easily and effectively communicate emergency plans and procedures with employees and building occupants,” said Hank Monaco, vice president, marketing, Johnson Controls. “This agreement is a continuation of Johnson Controls commitment to public safety by providing enterprises with a mechanism to report and react to emergencies and a means to further bolster security systems and safety procedures.”

    PunchAlert, launched in 2014, has already gained traction in the United States and Canada with both public and private organizations. The PunchAlert platform is designed to continuously innovate and solve customer pain points based on insights gained from partnerships. Building on its portfolio of offerings, Punch Technologies, Inc. will also launch Rescue, the most advanced safety wearable ever, in the first quarter of 2020.

    About Punch Technologies, Inc.

    Charlotte, North Carolina-based software company that is striving to give every person the power to make the world a safer place for them, their families, and their communities through efficient and integrated safety communications technologies.

    PunchAlert is a robust safety communications platform. PunchAlert provides organizations of all shapes and sizes an all in one emergency management and communications solution. PunchAlert provides the opportunity to communicate internally, crowdsource content, and involve local emergency responders while providing them with real-time information and manage all communications during an emergency situation. More importantly when building a community of safety PunchAlert exceeds expectations by keeping everyone safe, informed, and connected.

    911+ is an integrated feature allowing a direct connection to a 911 operator and providing an accurate location to the 911 call center with your mobile phone. 911+ Connect leverages the 911+ feature allowing it to be integrated with all connected devices or applications using a simple, yet powerful API.

    About Johnson Controls

    Johnson Controls is a global leader creating a safe, comfortable and sustainable world. Our 105,000 employees create intelligent buildings, efficient energy solutions and integrated infrastructure that work seamlessly together to deliver on the promise of smart cities and communities in 150 countries. Our commitment to sustainability dates back to our roots in 1885, with the invention of the first electric room thermostat. We are committed to helping our customers win everywhere, every day and creating greater value for all of our stakeholders through strategic focus on our buildings and energy growth platforms. For additional information, please visit http://www.johnsoncontrols.com or follow us @johnsoncontrols on Twitter.


    Ryan Nolan
    Global Public Relations Program Manager, Johnson Controls

    Ashley Davis
    VP Community Engagement, PunchAlert

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