How could one set up a distributed cellphone hotline number?
December 31, 2008 5:11 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to set up a hotline number which forwards calls to multiple personal cell phones?

Suppose one wanted to acquire a phone number that would be publicized as a "hotline number." What is the best way to set up a system in which, when someone calls said hotline number, the call is directed to one of several participants via their individual cell phones?

Is there some device or service that can accomplish this? Bonus points if the call can be forwarded to each cellphone in turn until one of the cell-phone-wielding participants picks up (in some preestablished, or even schedule-based, order).

If anyone is particularly curious about the background info for this question, I'd be happy to post it.
posted by Salvor Hardin to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My VOIP service (Voicepulse) has a "Call Hunt" feature. Here's their description of it:

"Call Hunt / Find Me
Our Call Hunt / Find Me feature not only lets you ring phones sequentially until you pick up, but you can ring multiple phones at the same time too! This means you can set it up to ring your home phone, then everyone's work phones (at the same time), then everyone's cell phones (at the same time)!"

I really like Voicepulse. Looks like Vonage has this too: Ring Lists
posted by sharkfu at 5:22 PM on December 31, 2008

If anyone is particularly curious about the background info for this question, I'd be happy to post it.

I have absolutely no answer for this question, but I'm unbelievably nosey and I'd like to know, if you don't mind. I'm interested in what you'd use this service for.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:11 PM on December 31, 2008 may be a place to check....they assign you a phone number, and you can have multiple numbers (generally thought to be home/cell/work) all ring at the same there's a bunch of other cool features. :)

something to check out.
posted by AltReality at 6:17 PM on December 31, 2008

GrandCentral can definitely be used for exactly this.
posted by thebabelfish at 7:21 PM on December 31, 2008

Great! Thanks everyone for your help - both VOIP and GrandCentral seem to be very well suited for this application! Feel free to keep posting - I'd be curious of any other methods out there.

Also, DarlingBri, I don't mind at all. Here's the background info:

I had a conversation with some friends about the problems they have experienced/heard of with using 911 to deal with bad illegal drug reactions; i.e. the police tend to show up along with medical personnel. In circumstances in which a user has a bad, but non-life-threatening, reaction, sometimes friends choose to use some kind of "folk remedy" (benadryl, coffee, cold shower, etc) which may or may not help, or might even be harmful, rather than call an ambulance.

In a life-threatening situation, of course one must weigh a friend's life far above legal problems, but it is troubling that there is any potential conflict of interest at all. We were curious if we (or someone) could help that sort of problem by establishing an anonymous drug informational hotline staffed by busy but sympathetic and well informed civilians with cellphones. For example, this hotline could tell a caller NOT to dunk their friend's head in goat pee, because it won't help his horrible acid trip, and instead to make sure he doesn't choke on his own vomit or jump out a window, or perhaps CALL AN AMBULANCE NOW YOUR FRIEND IS GOING TO DIE IF YOU DON'T. Or whatever.

However, we didn't know if there was some way to make a hotline without having dedicated employees sitting around in a room waiting for a call. Thus the question.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:32 PM on December 31, 2008

Well no comment on the drugline legalities, but gotvmail will do what grandcentral does, but a little more in depth. Plus you get 1.800 numbers attached to it. You can also set up the answering machine for different things, i.e. press 1 for this and press 2 for that.
posted by wile e at 11:35 PM on December 31, 2008

Salvor Hardin, thanks for indulging my nosiness. Good luck!
posted by DarlingBri at 8:17 AM on January 1, 2009

Before purchasing an in-house telephone system, we used to use to handle our phone routing services. One of the great features of their service is the ability to route incoming callers to one of any number of cell phones--either randomly or in a set order.

Even though we no longer use their service, I am a fan. Their customer service is very good and the service itself is very professional. I suggest that you give them a look. (And, you can even get a toll-free number for everyone to call as part of the service!)
posted by richardhay at 10:47 AM on January 1, 2009

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