Emergency alerts are one of the main things SMS is utilized for in local governments. Messages regarding possible security threats, natural disasters or traffic accidents that affect the population need to be delivered fast with a high likelihood of them being read immediately. As the recent events in Hawaii show, the tool works great for emergency situations, though it is important to make sure that there is an actual threat before triggering an API to send messages.
Other municipality uses like road maintenance, water works, planned outages, and the sort, often require the residents to perform certain tasks --either keep from using their faucets or parking their car elsewhere. An SMS reminder helps mitigate the disturbances to their lives, as well as keep the work flowing without problems. We recently started working with the city of Tartu, Estonia, helping them deliver crucial reminders to their residents. These notifications are far from a disturbance for the people of Tartu, as a buzz of their cellphones lets them know of a major road closure before they get in the car.
There is a plethora of other messages that municipalities can send to their communities: voting reminders, community events notifications, application updates, or info on the state of affairs in the city; they can all be sent via SMS. The city of Tallinn utilizes SMS to send notifications to people when public transportations passes expire or run out of credit. A quick glance at a mobile device doesn’t give passengers an excuse to ride the tram without paying (the city can even prove that they sent a reminder through delivery reports!)
While peer to peer SMS traffic is eroding over time, as people migrate to Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and the likes, SMS is growing in use both for businesses and municipalities. It’s the go-to tool for client communication or community outreach. From banking PIN codes to sewage work notifications, the SMS has a ton of use-cases to offer.