As emails sit unopened in overflowing inboxes, text message communication is ramping up in places you may have never expected.
There’s just no denying the made-you-look power of a text message.
Here are ten fantastic text message use cases you may encounter this year:
The brainchild of civil rights activist Shane Harris, the San Diego Unified School District will now allow community members participating remotely in school board meetings to sign up to receive texts alerting them when it’s time for their public comments.
Coronavirus Exposure Notices
Spend any time recently in the Northern Territory of Australia? Venues in this region have QR code check-ins that assist with contact tracing. Anyone who scans will receive an automatic text message alert if they checked into a venue at the same time as a positive COVID-19 case.
Anonymous Crime Tip Alerts
Police departments are enlisting the help of citizens to report crime via text message. To send an anonymous tip to the Peoria Illinois Police Department, people can text the keyword PEORIAPD and the tip to the short code 847411. The tipster’s cellular phone number is completely anonymous and is never received by the Peoria Police Department.
Extreme Weather Alerts
Residents of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, can receive alerts on the risk of heavy rains, hail, storms, windstorms, flooding, risk of landslides and other meteorological phenomena via text message. To register, people can send a text message with their street zip code to the number 40199.
COVID-19 Test Kit Giveaway
With COVID-19 test kits in short supply, residents of Massillon, Ohio, can sign up to receive a text message when the health department is handing out free kits. Just get there early. Last time they ran out after 35 minutes!
No More Standing in Line at this DMV
If you’ve experienced the nightmare of standing for hours in a depressing DMV line, this next use case may bring happy tears to your eyes. The Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles has implemented a text messaging notification service that allows customers to wait in their vehicles. A text alert will notify people to come to the lobby when it's their turn to be served.
Shark Tracking at Public Beaches
Scientists at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are collaborating with Cal State Long Beach’s Shark Lab to develop a program that will track sharks and beach visitors using drone footage. When the drone detects the shark, the program could potentially send a text message alert to life guards and people at the beach.
Good Deal Alerts
Reviewed.com is a part of USA TODAY Tech, a source for “unbiased, trustworthy, and lab-tested reviews.” When people sign up for text message alerts from Reviewed.com, they get shopping advice, help with hard-to-find items, and deals delivered straight to their phone.
Geo-Targeted Missing Person Assistance
The New South Wales Police Force works with mobile providers to send text messages to people within the area of a high-risk missing person’s last known location in the hopes they may be able to provide police with real-time information about the missing person. The text message includes the name and physical description of the missing person, where they were last seen, and how to report a sighting.
Providing electricity to 2.4 million customers throughout Nevada, NV Energy sends text message alerts asking customers to conserve energy during excessive heat warnings. Customers are prompted to turn off lights, pool pumps, unplug appliances, adjust thermostats and other energy-saving tips.