The Town of Amherst uses the BlackBoard Connect community outreach system.
This system allows authorized Town officials to create and rapidly disseminate time-sensitive messages to every home phone, business phone, cell phone (with text messages) and email address stored in the notification database. Don't wait update your contact information now!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I update or add phone numbers to the service?
Yes, simply visit this link and update and manage your own information.
How does the service work? Authorized officials record a voice message that is then delivered quickly to individual phones in the notification database.
What types of messages will be sent using the service? Any message regarding the safety or welfare of our community and occasional (1 to 3 times per year) non emergency messages. Examples would include severe weather warnings and updates, hazardous traffic or road conditions inside the town or affecting local routes, and any other situations that could impact the safety, property, or welfare of our citizens.
Does the BlackBoard Connect service replace other systems that have been used to provide time-sensitive information to residents? This system is a significant enhancement to existing means of communication and is supplemental to, not a replacement for, the systems we have used in the past. TV, radio and our Town web site will continue to broadcast important announcements.
Is my telephone number included in the notification database? It is our intention and hope that every residence and commercial facility in our community be included in the notification database. For businesses, we only store 1 main phone number. For residents, we may have more than 1 number that belongs to you in the database. Additionally, you may request to have a secondary number be entered into our database for priority calling.
May I use a cell phone as my notification database listing? Yes, we can accept cell phones as secondary phone numbers in the database and encourage you to request that your number be included.
What precautions are being taken to protect personal information? BlackBoard Connect is a service of The NTI Group, Inc. (NTI). NTI takes security and privacy concerns very seriously and does not sell, trade, lease or loan any data about our clients to any third party. From a technical perspective, we utilize multiple physical and virtual layers of firewalls to maintain data security. NTI only utilizes secure transmissions with its customers. No confidential information is ever transmitted between NTI and its customers using e-mail or FTP, but rather always utilizes either a VPN tunnel or SSL. Data is hosted in state-of-the-art facilities which require photo identification, thumb-print recognition, keyed access, and are manned 24/7 with full-security personnel. All data is encrypted prior to being placed on tape for offsite storage. NTI also retains an external, independent security firm to perform annual security audits.
Will there be a way to positively identify incoming calls which are made by the town using the system? The caller-ID number for calls generated by the BlackBoard Connect service will be the same as the Town Office number: 413-259-3000. In addition, every message will begin with the same standard announcement: “Hello, this is Town Manager John Musante calling with an important message from the Town of Amherst”. The message content will follow this standard introduction.
Will the BlackBoard Connect service work if I have a call screening system on my phone? There are several varieties of call screening devices which use differing protocols for screening. In general, the system has been found to work with these devices; but, some may require some type of pre-programming to allow our town’s telephone number to pass through. We may conduct periodic test to assure that messages are being delivered to numbers in the notification database.
If I have provided more than 1 phone number, when will they be called? Should a situation arise that requires us to contact you at multiple phone numbers, we can activate the system to place a simultaneous call to all of your numbers. In most cases, we will be sending calls only to 1 phone number.
My primary phone or my second listing is a cell phone with a non-local area code. Will the BlackBoard Connect service call numbers outside the area? Yes. The area code does not impact whether or not a call is made.
How does the BlackBoard Connect system respond to busy signals or no-answer situations? For busy signals, the call will be repeated several times in an attempt to reach you. The same is true for No-answer and Call-waiting. If the phone is answered by a message recorder, the message will be left on the answering device. If, after several attempts the call does not successfully go through, the system will stop attempting to call.
I was not able to listen to the entire call. Is there a way to repeat the message? Yes at the end of the message playback, simply press the star (*) key on your telephone to have it repeated in its entirety.
I answer the phone but the “Hello” message repeats. It then hangs up, calls back, and the same thing happens again. How can I hear the entire message? Repeating or looping of messages happens when the system detects excessive noise in the background. This can be caused by loud radio/television volumes, people talking, or busy traffic noise. When you receive the next call, say “hello” once and turn down the volume of your radio/television or press the mute button on your telephone to allow full message delivery.