Government SMS Services: Why and How to Use Them [2023]

May 18, 2023 | By Sam Pelton
government building

The government is notorious for being inefficient.

Some of those inefficiencies are intentional for the purposes of maintaining checks and balances within the system.

But one area in which government employees can look to improve is communication—how can you get the right info out to relevant people?

Whether you’re a leader in a public library, a municipality, a public park, or anything in between, you need to be able to reach people.

As we become more connected than ever before, government organizations are turning to SMS services as a way to communicate with their teams and with people who use public services.

SMS (AKA text messaging) has become an effective way to send out important alerts, reminders, and updates—and the benefits are countless.

Here we’ll look at how government SMS services work, who uses them, and how to use them to get the most out of this simple but powerful technology.

Why Use Government SMS Services?

Maybe you need to reach patrons who use the services you offer.

Maybe you need to reach citizens about community updates.

Or maybe you just need to keep your team up to date and in the know about what’s going on internally.

The good news is that texting has a read rate of 98%. And everyone texts a lot —in 2021, there were 2 trillion texts sent in the United States alone.

Texting is a simple way to reach a lot of people quickly. It’s more reliable than email as a way to make sure your messages are actually seen—and seen in a timely manner.

Government SMS services have become a popular choice for reaching people because of their real-time delivery and high open rates. Text messages have a near-universal reach, meaning that government agencies can quickly and easily reach people no matter where they are.

One study in a series of trials among local governments found that texting brought about double the responses than mailers in regards to participating in a job-training program. It also found that sending a text yielded 19% more responses in participating in a particular assistance program than not sending a text.

SMS messages can therefore be used to deliver a wide variety of information, from public safety alerts to election reminders to emergency notifications.

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Who Uses Government SMS Services?

SMS services are used across a wide variety of government entities.

Here’s a sample.

In General

In general, government-run entities can use SMS to keep all their team up to date on what’s going on. Some of these types of updates include…

  • Reminders
  • Office closures
  • HR updates
  • IT issues
  • Overtime notices


Grand Island city hall staff: System is currently experiencing connectivity issues. Please standby while IT works on the problem.

Overtime opportunity: tomorrow (Tue 6/8) from 1600-1800. First come, first serve. Reply INTERESTED if interested.


Municipalities can use SMS to let their citizens know about important issues—such as…

  • Utility updates
  • Public meetings
  • Any other public awareness issues


A boil water notice is required by the State Water Board over the next two to three weeks (14-21 days) as repairs and upgrades are made to the water plant filtration system. Click here for more information:

Citywide Spring Cleanup Day - Saturday, April 24th. Please have all items to be picked up at the curb before 7:00 a.m.

Public Libraries

Public libraries can use SMS to connect with patrons about all the events going on in the library—that way, you can drive more awareness to everything that’s going on:

  • Event updates
  • Reminders
  • Team notices


Don’t miss the used book sale this weekend at Gere Public Library! All kinds of books sold by the pound.

Mayor Geist is hosting a storytime hour this Saturday from 10-11am! Register here:

Public Transportation

Public transportation can use SMS to let people know about changes in schedule or routes—so that people aren’t left scrambling at the unexpected:

  • Schedule changes
  • Route changes
  • Delays
  • Technical malfunctions


No service this evening (Wednesday, August 5). A service update for Thursday will be provided by 6 AM Thursday, August 6.

Expect delays this morning, September 29, due to construction along 48th and A St.

Military Recruitment

Military branch representatives can use SMS to help engage recruiters.


You’ve been assigned to compete against 4 other recruiters to see who can get the most leads in the month of July! See details here:

Recruiting contest starts TODAY! Check out all the contest rules here:

Public Parks

Public parks can use SMS to let potential campers know about whether camping sites are available or full.


The Elm and Cedarwood sections are now open for camping!

Cedarwood area has reached capacity. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Health Service Organizations

Health service organizations can use SMS to notify program participants about events and updates, so that you can make sure everyone’s in the know:

  • Participant notifications
  • Event updates
  • Reminders
  • Team notices


Cancer Treatment Support Group TODAY @ 4:30pm - join us in person or via Zoom. Zoom link:

Please click the link below to let us know how we’re doing! You’ll be entered into a drawing for a $100 Target gift card for your participation:

Police Departments

Police departments can use SMS to get in touch with potential recruits about application deadlines.


Your application deadline is May 11th at 11:59pm. View application form here:

Congratulations on your application being approved! As a reminder, your physical agility test and written exam will be on May 23rd.

How to Use Government SMS Services

The concept of using government SMS services is simple enough, but does involve a few steps.

1. Determine Your Messaging Goals

Figure out what kinds of messages you’d like to send—and how often you want to send them.

Will you be sending solely team updates among your staff? Will you be notifying patrons or citizens about updates and events? Will you be using texts for a combination of different reasons?

Your purposes for your messages will make a difference in how you go about your messaging efforts.

2. Choose an SMS Provider

You can select an SMS platform that will work for your situation and will help you accomplish your goals. (Mobile Text Alerts offers an online platform, a mobile app, and a programmable API, so you can use whichever tool works best for you—or use a combination of tools.)

3. Build Your SMS List

Start building your list of contacts by promoting your SMS program through appropriate means.

If you’re only sending texts to your team, you can simply import your employee list.

If you’re opening up your text list to the general public, you can promote opt-in methods such as text-to-join, QR codes, or a web form on your website, social media, or other marketing channels.

4. Make a Plan for Your Messages

Determine who will be in charge of sending out your messages, how often your messages will be sent, and under what conditions your messages will be sent.

If conducive to your situation and purposes, you can set up pre-filled message templates or drip campaign workflows ahead of time, or you can schedule one-off messages whenever needed.

5. Monitor Your Messages

After your messages send out, you can check on some analytics for those messages to see data points such as:

  • Whether each recipient successfully received the message
  • What percentage of recipients responded to the message
  • What percentage of recipients opted out

Get a Government SMS Service

Whether you work in a small town government body, your state’s legislature, or a government-sponsored organization like a public library, your situation can benefit from sending texts.

Try out an SMS platform for free to see how it might work for your organization.

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Start sending mass text alerts to your entire list today!