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Complete Guide to the User Database Manager

Complete User Database Manager

User Directory Navigation

  • Browse: Click to browse a full list of all users
  • Find: To find a user by name, clear out the last name or first name field, enter the appropriate name, then click find. If there are multiple users with that same first or last name, make sure the cursor is in the field that you used to search, then click Next.
  • Previous: Click to navigate to the previous user record – the system sorts users alphabetically by either first or last name, depending on which field contains the cursor.
  • Next: Click to navigate to the next user record.
  • Save: Click to save changes to a user record.
  • Save As New: Click to save a new user. Note that the PIN/User ID must be changed to create a new user record.
  • Delete: Click to delete the user record.
  • Clear: Click to clear out all fields.
  • Com Ctrl: Click to navigate to the Comm Control screen. See How to Change Comm Control Preferences.
  • Ctrl List: Click to navigate to the Sys User Database Access List to change which users have access to the User Database Manager.
  • Check Boxes: Next to several fields, there is a check box – selecting this check box will allow the user the ability to change that field themselves.
  • Question Mark: The question mark icon will display more information about the field it’s next to if you mouse over it.

User Directory by Field

    The required fields to create a new user are: Last Name, First Name, Directory, PIN/User ID, Password, Sign Group, and Class.

  • Last Name: This is the user’s last name.
  • First Name: This is the user’s first name.
  • Initial: Enter an initial if the user has the same name as another to differentiate.
  • Directory: Select a Message Directory to be the user’s default directory. This will be the directory that automatically loads when the user clicks on the Message Dir tab.
  • PIN/User ID: This is the user’s unique ID, which is used to log in to the MessageNet system.
  • Password: Enter the user’s password, which will be used to log in to the MessageNet system. Note that if a user forgets their password, for security reasons, MessageNet Support staff cannot reset the password. That must be done by the on-site system administrator.
  • Courtesy Title: Select the courtesy title for the user. This does affect the Gender field – if Ms. is selected here, Male cannot be selected for Gender.
  • Sign Group: If the user has a sign or other public device that can be used to contact the user, select its sign group here. Because this is a required field, if the user has no sign group, select No Signs.
  • Class: Select the user’s class. This determines what features and screens of the MessageNet system the user has access to. See below for a full list of user classes.
  • SS Num: This is the user’s social security number. The MessageNet system does not use this field, so it is for informational purposes only.
  • Short Name: Enter a short name for the user, if they have one. This is to help differentiate users of the same name.
  • Gender: This field sets the gender of text-to-speech messages sent by this user. It is affected by the Courtesy Title field – for example, if a masculine title is selected, the Gender field will automatically change to Male.
  • Text Device Control: See How to Set Up Text Device Control.
  • Commercial Pager: Use the down arrow to select the user’s commercial pager, which is pre-defined in the Hardware Pager Database. This is the user’s primary text device and can be either a pager or a cell phone (See How to Define Text Devices).
  • Inhouse Pager: If a user has multiple text devices, select the second one in this field.
  • Audio Group: If the user has a sign or other public device with audio capabilities that can be used to contact that user, select its audio group here. This will allow other users to send audio messages for that user to this audio group.
  • Work Phone: Enter the user’s work phone number.
  • Extension: If the user has an extension, enter it here, with the main work number in the Work Phone field.
  • Cell Phone: Enter the user’s cell phone number.
  • Reports To: If the user reports to a superior, select that user here.
  • Home Phone: Enter the user’s home phone number.
  • Other Phone: If the user has an alternate phone number, enter it here.
  • Street: Enter the user’s street address. This and all fields relating to the user’s address are fore informational purposes only and are not used by the Messagenet system.
  • City: Enter the city in which the user lives.
  • Email: Enter the user’s e-mail address. Note that this field is used for messaging, but that e-mail does need to be set up to work between the organization’s e-mail server and the MessageNet server.
  • State: Enter the state in which the user lives.
  • Zip: Enter the user’s zip code.
  • Fax: Enter the user’s fax number. Note that this field is also only for informational purposes. The MessageNet system cannot send a fax.
  • Dept: Select the user’s Department. This field can be used to logically sort users into lists.
  • Group: Select the user’s Group. This field can be used to logically sort users into lists.
  • Organization: Select the user’s Organization. This field can be used to logically sort users into lists.
  • Site: Select the site at which the user works.
  • Room: Select the room in which the user works.
  • Job Title: Enter the user’s job title.
  • Employee ID: Enter the user’s employee ID number.
  • Check Msgs: Enter the length of time (in seconds) that will be the interval at which the Inbox refreshes automatically to check for new messages. A zero in this field will indicate never auto-refreshing, while any number smaller than 60 will be treated as 60.
  • Max Priority: Enter the maximum priority the user can assign to a message.
  • Note: enter any notes about this user here.
  • Auth List Cell: Select a list to restrict who can view the user’s cell phone number on the User Directory screen.
  • Auth List Home: Select a list to restrict who can view the user’s home phone number on the User Directory screen.
  • Auth List Other: Select a list to restrict who can view the user’s other phone number on the User Directory screen.
  • Auth/Dist List: This field has two functions. If the user is a LST or LSI user class, which should only be used for lists, this field will distribute any messages sent to the user to any users in the list selected in this field. If the user is any other user class, this field instead restricts who can see or message the user within the system to only those on the list.
  • Automated Attendant: If MessageNet manages the phone system directly instead of interfacing it, click this check box to add this user and the extension listed above to the automated attendant.
  • Default Locations: this field is used to specify a specific map as the default when the users accesses the Locations tab.
  • Max Voice Msgs: Enter the maximum number of voice messages the user can have in their voice mail box at once.
  • Voice Msg Dir: Select a message directory that will hold voice messages for the user. If none is selected, the default of SYSTEM.DEFAULT will be used.
  • Voice Msg Name: Select the name of the message that will launch when the user receives a voice message. If no message name is selected, the default of VOICE MESSAGE will be used.
  • Button Control: Check the box to allow the user the ability to change messages attached to a button associated with them.
  • Auto Login: Check the box to allow auto login for this user. For security reasons, this is not recommended for any user that has multiple devices, uses any public devices, or shares devices with other users.
  • Show on User Dir: Check the box to include the user on the User Directory. Without this box checked, the user will not be listed in the User Directory.

User Classes

Class defines a user’s access within the MessageNet system. The on-site system administrator should decide what duties each user should have and what features they’ll need access to before creating users. A full list of user classes and what features they have access to is available by clicking on the Help tab from the User Database Manager. There is also a chart of screens and the most common user classes and what those classes have access to. The most commonly used classes are MGR, LIB, CL1, CL4. JOB, LSI, and ROM.

  • MGR: MGR stands for Manager and is the highest class of user and has access to all screens. Any on-site system administrators should be this level of user class.
  • AMG: This is the assistant manager user class. It has the almost the same access as the MGR user class and is intended for high-level users who are not system administrators.
  • LIB: This is the library-class user and is meant for creating Message Libraries for the Connections Mobile app.
  • CL1: This is the highest class of standard user. This user class has access to the Message Editor for message creation.
  • CL2: This standard class of user also has access to the Message Editor, but has access to fewer Other Screens.
  • CL3: This standard class of user can launch messages, but not edit or create them.
  • CL4: This is the lowest class of standard user.
  • JOB: This is used to define a role or job within the organization that can then be forwarded to different users who hold that position at varying times.
  • CST: This is the customer-class user and allows access only to the inbox and message directory screens and is only valid for a default of twenty days.
  • GUC: This is the General User Class. It allows access only to the Send, Reply, User Directory, User Database Manager, Comm Control, and Stop Active Messages screens
  • MUC: This is the Message User Class. It allows access only to the Send, Reply, User Directory, and Stop Active Messages screens.
  • LST: This is a list-class user that is used to forward messages on to user lists. The LST user class sends one message to all of the users on the list so that if one person replies to it or closes it, it is closed for all other users as well.
  • LSI: This is a list-class user that is used to forward messages on to user lists. The LSI user class sends each user on the list their own copy of the message so one user replying to or closing the message does not affect the other users’ copies of the message.
  • ROM: This is a room-class user and is used to define rooms or locations so that messages can be sent to public devices with no user owning them from the User Directory.
  • STU: This is a student-class user and is only allowed access to view their new and old messages.
  • GRD: This is a guardian-class user that is associated with a student and is allowed access only to view old and new messages.
  • TAP: This is a user class designed to define other computer systems as users so that the MessageNet system can receive input from the computer system’s TAP protocol via the modem connection. When the MessageNet server sees input from the TAP protocol it matches the TAP user’s PIN and then looks in the Directory field for the user’s default directory and then looks for a message that matches the input to launch.
  • XPA: This is an Extend PA user class that has access only to the Locations and User Directory screens.
  • LOC: This is a location-class user that has access only to the Locations screen.
  • SGN: This is a sign-class user that can only send pre-defined messages from their own directory and to reply to messages.
  • KSK: This is a kiosk-class user that can only send pre-defined messages from their own directory.
  • PAG: This is a pager-class user that can only send pager messages from the User Directory. All other User Directory icons will not be visible.
  • UDM: This is a User Database Manager class user that is only able to manage, create, and delete user accounts in the User Database Manager.
  • ADM: This is the Administrative User class. It’s designed to be able to manage, create, and delete user accounts but cannot assign passwords to user accounts.
  • SCR: This is the Security user class and can only assign passwords to user accounts or upload CSV files.
  • DIR: This is the directory class user and is allowed access only to the User Directory.
  • Browse

    If you click on the Browse button, this will take you to a new screen that is a list of all users saved in the MessageNet system in order alphabetically by User ID/PIN. You can navigate by filling in the Last Name, First Name, PIN/User ID, or Extension fields and then clicking Find. Click Next to navigate to the next user in order based on the field that was used with Find. The CSV button will allow you to create and export a CSV file. At the bottom of the screen are up and down arrows that will page up and down. Clicking on the number next to a user entry will take you to the User Database Manager entry for that user. To return to the User Database Manager, click Revert at the top of the screen.

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Secure Emergency Communication Systems Prevent Misuse

The recent increase in school shootings (more school children have died in the US this year as of writing than service members in the military) has also seen an increase in perpetrators making use of the school’s emergency communication system for their own nefarious purposes. The suspects at both Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, and at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, pulled the fire alarm, causing students and staff to leave their classrooms, believing there to be a fire drill. In both cases, the very systems designed to keep students safe were instead used against them.

While the fire alarm is easy to access via its pull stations, it’s not the only system vulnerable to unauthorized usage. Most perpetrators of school shootings have been current or former students, or have other ties to that school. Therefore, they are more familiar with the school’s security and could know the number for the PA system and dial it, either to use it themselves or to prevent security or school administrators from using it. As more violent incidents at schools occur, the more future shooters can learn from the techniques of those who came before them.

It is vital to secure the emergency communication system from unauthorized usage. While this may be impossible for certain parts of the system, such as the fire alarm pull station or even the PA, the system as a whole should be protected with user log in and passwords, as well as different classes of user to restrict which users have access to what features as needed. This in addition to using multiple methods of communication could help prevent further misuse of emergency systems. For example, if students and staff are expecting any emergencies or drills to be announced with both audio and visual PA, it would be easier to know that something was wrong and that it wasn’t a real alarm if they heard only the fire alarm.

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PA Needs to Be Both Audio and Visual

In emergency situations, audio PA alone often isn’t enough to convey emergency communications to those who need it. For example, in the recent tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, one of the first acts done by the shooter was to pull the fire alarm, which caused many students and teachers to believe that there was a fire drill and leave their classrooms before a code red lockdown could be enacted. More recently, at Santa Fe High School in Texas, the fire alarm was pulled, causing students and staff to, believing there was a fire drill, go outside, where they began to hear gunshots.

Fire alarms, by design, are extremely loud – the alarm could effectively nullify any attempt to communicate via audio PA. In addition, many types of emergencies could render a substantial portion of the victims at least temporarily deaf, also rendering audio communications futile.

To most effectively communicate during an emergency, audio/visual PA would provide both the audio announcement but also a text announcement that would reach people unable to hear the audio for any reason. In addition, text announcements can continue scrolling, preventing people from missing important information. It’s also easier with text announcements to provide different instructions to different locations without the other messages interfering and the message getting muddled or misunderstood.

Even in situations where everyone is able to hear clearly, having additional sources of communication is essential. An audio announcement alone could result in missed information if people were not paying attention quickly enough. Also, any single source of communication could see people seeking corroboration from another source. Audio/Visual PA provides two sources of communication in one and ensures that messages and information reach people in an emergency even in extremely loud environments. Additionally, if all official emergency messages and drills utilize both audio and text, then staff could know immediately that something was wrong if one was issued by itself.

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How to Change Comm Control Preferences

The Communication Control, or Comm Control, screen is where users can set how they want to be contacted. It is accessible either from the User Directory or from the User Database Manager by clicking on the Comm Control button in the upper right corner of the window. Either location will take you to the Communications Control screen. Higher levels of user, such as MGR, can access the Comm Control for any user – from the User Directory, click the check box next to the user’s name before clicking on the Comm Control button and from the User Database Manager, navigate to the user’s account first, then click on the comm control button.

Comm Control Screen

Text Device Control: See How to Set Up Text Device Control

In/Out Whiteboard: The User Directory shows whether each user is ‘In’ or ‘Out’ and that status can be changed here.
Forward Communications: To forward all communications to another user, select the user’s name here.
Cancel Forwarding: Click this button to cancel all message forwarding.
Sign Group: To assign a sign’s text functionality (LED, MediaPort, IPSpeaker, or PC Alert) to a user, select its Sign Group.
Audio Group: To assign a sign’s audio functionality (MediaPort or IPSpeaker) to a user, select its Audio Group.
Display Pages on Signs: Select yes to have all pages and text messages displayed on the sign selected in Sign Group.
Authorization List: To limit which users can contact this user, select an authorization list.
User Note: Enter any helpful notes that the user wants visible to other users.

Phone & Voice Mail Settings
Active Phone Call At: Select which of the four phone options is the user’s active phone. This is the number the system will dial to contact the user by default.
PC Alert Caller ID: Choose whether or not calls with caller ID are announced on the user’s PC Alert.
Work Phone Number Control: Select whether the user’s work phone number is listed in the User Directory and/or dialable.
Other Phone: Enter a phone number to be the user’s ‘Other’ phone.
Home Phone Number Control: Select whether the user’s home phone number is listed in the User Directory and/or dialable.
Auth List: To restrict who can contact the user’s home phone number, select an authorization list.
Cell Phone Number Control: Select whether the user’s cell phone number is listed in the User Directory and/or dialable.
Autho List: To restrict who can contact the user’s cell phone number, select an authorization list.
Other Phone Number Control: Select whether the user’s other phone number is listed in the User Directory and/or dialable.
Voice Mail Greeting: Select which pre-recorded voice mail greetings to user.
Edit VM Greeting: Select which pre-recorded voice mail greeting you want to edit, then click on the microphone to record a new message or the speaker to listen.
Note: The voice mail greeting option is only available if the MessageNet system is managing phone calls rather than connecting to a pre-existing phone system.

Email Signature: Enter an e-mail signature that will appear at the bottom of any e-mail messages sent by this user.

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How to Set Up User Devices

User devices are personal devices or contact methods by which a user can be personally reached. These include e-mail addresses, phones, PC Alert, and text devices such as pagers or cell phones.

Text Devices (cell phones and pagers): each device requires a license that can be purchased from MessageNet Systems. The license is per device, not the user, so if a user has multiple text devices, a license is still required for each one. Once licenses have been purchased and added to the server by MessageNet support staff, the System Administrator must define each device. Then, the device must be saved to each user’s profile in the User Database Manager.

PC Alert: this is MessageNet’s PC pop-up program. It cannot be used for emergency communication, but can be supplementary or used for everyday messaging. It can be downloaded onto either Macs or PCs and each computer would require a license purchased from MessageNet. The PC Alert software does auto-define itself on the MessageNet system, but the System Administrator would still need to connect each one to the correct users.

E-mail: e-mail addresses do not require a license and each user can have one e-mail address entered into their user profile. However, the server does need to be set up to connect to the customer e-mail server. This can be done either by creating an MX record for the MessageNet server or by providing MessageNet support staff with an e-mail relay, which they will then program in to the server.

Phones: phones (for audio messaging, not texts) also do not require a license. Each user can enter up to four phone numbers into their user profile: Work, Cell, Home, and Other. The server needs to be set up to connect with the customer phone system. MessageNet is no longer compatible with T1/PRI cards, so if your phone system is not SIP-capable, then you would need to purchase a Digium VoIP Gateway that would convert the T1/PRI traffic to a SIP connection for the MessageNet system.

All of these devices, once set up, can be added to user accounts in the User Database Manager and then set up to receive messages in Text Device Control.

sample user database manager

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How to Set Up Text Device Control

Text Device Control is where a user can set up how they want to receive messages, independent of how a message is set up. For example, a user that wants to receive all messages via e-mail, regardless of whether the messages were configured to go to e-mail, can set this up in the Text Device Control screen. This screen appears in two locations (User Database Manager and Comm. Ctrl), but any changes made in one location will be saved in both locations. To access it, either click on the Comm. Ctrl. button in the upper right corner of the User Directory, or navigate to the User Database Manager from the Other Screens tab.

Text Device Control

Each selection has a check box and corresponds to a device or communication method that can be added to a user’s account. To select devices on which to receive all messages, check the box next to the appropriate devices. Some devices, such as pagers (the name is pager, but it can really be any text device, including cell phones), must be checked in order for a user to receive any messages on it, even if a message is configured to send to that text device.

For phones, enter a 1 in the empty box next to the field’s check box. This number may differ depending on the organization’s phone system, but 1 is generally standard. The 1 instructs the system to bypass the voicemail message. This is important because the MessageNet system cannot tell the difference between a person answering the phone and voicemail picking up. If the voicemail picks up and plays its message before allowing a recording, the MessageNet system will have already played all or most of the message prior to the beginning of the recording. Entering a 1 bypasses the voicemail message so that the recording will begin as soon as the message begins playing.

Users can only change their own Text Device Control settings if the User Allow Change box is checked. This box is only in the User Database Manager version of the Text Device Control and the System Administrator must check it prior to the user changing their settings.

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How to Create a New User

Creating and managing new users is the responsibility of the on-site System Administrator. For security reasons, MessageNet support staff cannot manage user accounts, as they have no way of knowing which users should have access to which features of the MessageNet system. Before creating a new user, the System Administrator should know what features of the system that user will need to use, so that the user account can be granted the appropriate permissions.

To create a new user, navigate to the User Database Manager from the Other Screens tab. Your own user record will appear as the default. The fields that are highlighted are the fields that are required to create a user account, but only the PIN/User ID field needs to be unique.

sample user database manager

Erase the current contents of the Last Name, First Name, PIN/User ID, and Password fields and enter the correct information for the new user. Then, click Save as New. This will create a new entry (Save will override your own user account, so be careful). The PIN/User ID and Password fields will be used to log in to the MessageNet system and the First Name and Last Name fields will be used by messages and lists that the user will receive.

The other highlighted fields are Directory, Sign Group, and Class. In the Directory field, select the Message Directory that the user will be need most often. For some users, there is only one message directory that they use and they thus may not know how to navigate between directories. The directory selected here will be the default directory that appears when the users clicks on the Message Dir tab.

If the user has a sign that is dedicated to their use, then you can select the Sign Group for that sign so that other users can send messages to that user on their sign from the User Directory. Otherwise, this can be set to ‘No Signs’.

Class is the field that controls what kind of access and permissions a user will have to the MessageNet system. System Administrators will always need to be MGR-class users. Users who need to create messages will need to be at least CL1 (the highest level of standard user), while users who only need to send messages but not create them can be CL4 (the lowest level of standard user). To see a full list of possible user classes and what permissions they entail, click on the Help tab. Scroll down to the list of fields and select Class to quickly jump to the class descriptions. There will be a comprehensive description of each user class as well as a table of the different screens and which user classes have access to them.

Don’t forget to click Save after any further changes have been made.

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School Shootings on the Rise

The 21st century has already seen more deaths and injuries in its first 18 years than in the entirety of the 20th century. At the time of writing, at least 13 separate incidents had occurred, causing at least 66 deaths and 81 injuries. In the 20th century, there were far more injuries, but only 55 deaths due to school shootings. The demographic of the shooters has also changed – now a school shooter is more likely to be an adolescent rather than an intruder. Researchers attributed the rise in school violence to a variety of factors, including easier access to guns for adolescents, mental health, and a lack of skills in conflict resolution.

Preventing more tragedies from happening should be a priority, but even with preventative measures in place, it’s vital to be prepared for the worst. A robust emergency communication system is more important than ever to protect staff and students and to save lives. During an emergency, one method of communication often isn’t enough to convey information to those who need it. Multiple methods of communication can provide different information to different groups of people at the same time, from teachers and students in different buildings to notifying parents and emergency responders.

Mass shootings aren’t exclusive to schools, either, and every organization should be prepared. There have also been more public shootings in recent years, including the one in Las Vegas. Having a plan for emergency situations and an emergency notification system to communication instructions to everyone involved is unfortunately necessary. In public locations, texts and other forms of private communication wouldn’t be able to reach most people, but audio/visual PA could still provide the necessary information and instructions. While improved communication can’t prevent emergencies from happening, it can help make the best of emergency situations when they occur.

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How to Save Messages to Connections Mobile

There are two ways to save a message to your Connections Mobile app. If you have access to the Message Editor for a particular message, there is a Mobilize button at the top of the screen. Click that button to save the message to your mobile app. Note: some users may not have access to the message editor to use this method.

Mobilize Button

The second option is available to all users who have permission to launch messages. To save a message to the app, navigate to the Message Directory in which your message is saved and then right-click on the message name. A message will pop up for you to click that reads ‘Add to Connections Mobile.’

Add to Connections Mobile

All messages added to the Connections Mobile app will appear in your DropBox and will need to be moved to a different section before they can be used or edited.

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Getting Started with the Connections Mobile App

The Connections Mobile application is available on mobile devices and on computers. The app itself is currently only available for iOS, with an Android app still in development. Android devices can still access the Connections Mobile interface, but until the app version is released, access the app the same way as on a computer.

iOS:

To get started with Connections Mobile on Apple mobile devices, go to the App Store and search for msgnet to find our app, which will have the MessageNet logo as its icon. Download and then open the app on your device. When prompted, enter your MessageNet server’s IP (or node name), and select whether it uses HTTPS or not. If you do not know those details, then you should contact your MessageNet system’s administrator before continuing.

IMPORTANT CONNECTIVITY NOTE: If your server is only accessible on your organization’s local area network, then you will only be able to access it while connected to a Wi-Fi network that has access to that LAN. If you desire being able to remotely connect to your MessageNet system, then you will need to make sure your network provides an external port forwarding for port 80 to your MessageNet server; in which case, you would just configure your app with whatever external IP or domain name is applicable.

Once the App successfully connects to your network, you’ll be prompted to enter your MessageNet log in information. If your system allows it, the app can use automatic log in after you’ve logged in for the first time. The system administrator would need to set this up if it’s allowable without your organization’s security requirements.

Android:

The Connections Mobile App isn’t yet available for Android devices, but the Connections Mobile interface can be reached on any web browser just like on a computer. To open the Connections Mobile interface, open a web browser on your device and log in to MessageNet Connections the same way you would on a computer – just click the Connections Mobile button to log into the Mobile interface. Keep in mind that if you’re outside the network on which the MessageNet server resides, depending on your organization’s network and security settings, you may need to use an external IP address to access Connections Mobile. Consult your on-site MessageNet system administrator for more information if necessary.

PC/Mac:

You can access Connections Mobile the same way you can access the Connections Administrative Interface. Go to any web browser and enter the MessageNet server’s IP address into the browser bar. Click on the MessageNet logo to open the log in window (you may need to allow pop ups for the site) and enter your user name and password (if you are a new MessageNet user and don’t have these yet, consult your on-site MessageNet system administrator). Click on Connections Mobile to open the mobile app.

Connections Mobile is the same across all devices and any messages you save to the app will appear wherever you have logged in. Any changes you have made to the organization or to the messages will be saved to your account and will follow you from device to device. For ease of use, Connections Mobile looks the same, whether it’s opened on a mobile device or on a computer.

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