Under review

Closings Application

Jason Schaefer 10 years ago in BLOX CMS updated by Mike Stickler 4 years ago 34
Since business/schools/daycares/etc closings is a issue that all newspapers/media have to deal with it would be nice to have a built in way to have approved businesses input/update closings/delayed starts within BLOX.
Hi Jason!

NOTE TO ALL: If you like these ideas, please vote for this product and give us feedback to let us know it is important to you! =)

I can't make any promises, but this is something I have on my map to create a possible product plan in the next few weeks/months. (After we do a preliminary product plan, we take the product to management for approval.)

But, any info you (or anyone reading this) can provide would help me a ton! Here is what I'm thinking so far:

Obviously these are just ideas I am brainstorming which could be included in a product plan - they are not promises or guarantees of development or delivery. This is one of the great uses for this community forum - we can help spec out products with the help of the community! =)

- There would be a new "change" asset in the Calendar application or possibly a new application.

- The change asset would support modes for delay, cancellation, change (what else can you think of?).

- The asset would allow for a time length which would signal the amount of time that the change would be in effect.

- This asset could then be related to events, businesses, game assets (in Sports Stats application) as a child, signaling a major change to that asset. So, on a business, it would indicate the business is closed, or changed during the specified time. (Maybe closed for snow, maybe closed due to construction, maybe opening is delayed due to hot weather, etc. A change could be something like, this business is out of iPhone 8s, but expects another shipment on Monday.) On an event, it would indicate the event was cancelled or changed during the specified time (the concert was canceled. A change on an event could mean than one performer (out of several) has canceled, or perhaps that the lead of a play is changing.)

- Change assets could also be assigned as children to articles. This would allow the articles to show as links on the change (giving more reason behind the change), and on the article it could create a list of affected businesses / events. (I.e. "Many businesses closed due to 18th St. construction" with a list of related affected businesses below. Or "Schools delay start by 2 hours due to snow" and then a list of change assets showing the schools.)

- People could submit their own change assets via the user dashboard. If they are a business owner, they could submit a closing or delay of their business. A school administrator could submit a cancellation to their "school" (which is actually business asset). An event owner can submit a cancellation of the event that they previous submitted, or that is attached to a business they manage.

- Email Reach / SMS integration, so users can "subscribe" to or follow certain types of events / places to get notifications via e-mail or SMS text.

- Display for cancellations on mobile devices.

- Allow for cancellations to be submitted via a mobile-optimized page.

- Ability to get a feed of cancellations to be shared with other media (if desired).

- Ability to create a widget of cancellations to be placed on other websites (like community sites, schools, ISPs etc.)

- Ability for cancellations to be send via e-mail to a special coded address. (Maybe a school would have a specialized e-mail address they could mail to, and those emails get attached to their business.)

- Ability to accept a feed from a recognized existing data source, if there is one. (Like a TV station or a district notifications site).

Any other ideas? Is there a source for this type of information already in your market that could provide a feed? Or more than one?

Please share any and all insights you may have! =)

Good morning Christine,
That sounds great to me.

"- Email Reach / SMS integration, so users can "subscribe" to or follow certain types of events / places to get notifications via e-mail or SMS text."

Are you talking about an automated system that would send the subscription out via a trigger or editorial would still need to remember to go in and send out the email reach?
Hi Jason!

Hmm... not sure. I would want it to be as automated as possible, but at the same time, I wouldn't want a business being able to trigger it themselves through their post. They could do it accidentally... or too often, etc. Would need to think about this more...
I can see the issue with the business being able to trigger it too often on the email/sms... It would also cause issues if the blast had the wrong information even if a time delay was in place for sending out blasts/sms. You would almost want there to be a delay on how often they could trigger a blast and the blast be as generic as possible since a time could have been accidentally input incorrectly.

I would think the ability to save that business to your profile for quick look up would be handy. The ability to quickly glance and see...  is daycare, school and work open/delayed without having to individually look them up would be a nice tool.
Hi Christine,

Is "Change" a current asset type or one you would create? I guess I would prefer a separate application for closings/cancellations because I'm not sure how many readers would know to go directly to our calendar for that information. I'd rather have a breaking news bar that shows up at the top of the website whenever closings are submitted.

Also, I think the simpler you can make it for schools and businesses, the more it will be used. I'd recommend an easy log-in (which we can assign to users), a calendar to show the cancellation date/times, drop-downs for common things ("event canceled," "event postponed until ...," "two-hour late start," etc.) and a custom field for more specific information.

Just some thoughts. But this is something we could definitely use.

Sean Hagewood,
Online Editor,
Hi Sage!

Yes, "change" (or whatever we would call it) would be a new asset type.

I'm starting to think it would be a new application too... I sort of liked it being in Calendar at first since it was an event-related thing, but now I'm thinking it would be confusing.

Are you guys aware of the type of system available in your area? Is there someplace that can provide a feed?

For my child's school, they have an e-mail alert system. Perhaps we could create a BLOX tool that allowed an e-mail to trigger an asset that is attached to a business. Then, you could subscribe that e-mail to the e-mail alert system, and get automatic updates from the school. (We have an e-mail asset system already, but would need to develop something to allow a specific address to tie to a business...)
I'm now thinking it could be called a "notice" asset... to provide notice on various topics, including things like:

- Late starts
- Snow emergency
- Parking changes due to snow or construction
- Business closings
- School early dismissal
- Early dismissal canceled due to previous snow day
- Road closing
- Construction delays
- Business closing
- Coach cancels practice
- Sport game canceled

Also, a customer today informed me that they are able to get notifications via state feeds. I'm trying to find out if those are available in other states... anyone find anything like that in their area?
It may be better as an asset than a calendar event. For a notice asset it may be handy to have a block that would display a map. Especially for Road Closings, Construction Delays... maybe even wrecks... that would be nice to add to a traffic page.

I may need to see if there is anything like that for Texas. If nothing else it might have an RSS for the time being.
Our calendar doesn't get a lot of use so I'm reluctant to see this be setup as a calendar event. I like the notice asset type better. I'm forwarding a link to this conversation on to the staff to see if they have any input.
The last few days we've had a massive water issue in our area. We had businesses that were having to close do to no water and we could have used a system like we were talking about in this thread.

Is there any news about a closings program or is it still under review?

We have a "weather related announcements page" http://www.willmarradio.com/weather_related_announcements/ . But the data is hosted on another company's server who created an interface for us and we bring it in via iframe. We are on "ths list" that school superintendents call when there are school cancellations. They have a code word that we change each season. Then we manually input whether the school is closed or late on a form created by the host site's developer. Yes, it's something we have to input manually, but it prevents mistakes, hacks, etc. Here's the screen we just leave open on a wintery day:

It would be nice if we had something like this within Town News so that we didn't a) have to use an outside server, and b) didn't have to bring the info in via iframe.They also have it set up so we can add/edit/delete schools as needed.
Any progress on a closings application?

With the winter months coming up FAST I'm going to have to code my own version.
This would be terrific! A nice ticker to be able to display closing/delays on the homepage, for instance, would be nice as well. Give it the ability to slowly scroll once there are too many schools to fit horizontally on the screen?

I think having a way for businesses/organizations to "claim" a page to pass announcements on would be great. I would suggest the option of being able to approve them before they go live...that way they couldn't be used inappropriately, for example, to advertise a sale instead of using it for it's intended purpose: to pass along closing/hour changes.
We have our own Closings site that we built many, many years ago. Started as a Community Group kind of application, not too far from what the BD is now in TN. A business/school/preschool/etc created a group and then could have 'admins' for the group who could login and post closings or late notices.  The Schools and Gov group's closings were then queried and were read on our radio stations, and also listed on our website. Preschools and other businesses were listed on the site but not read on the air.

Couldn't the businesses in the BD have the ability to add their own closings? And then build a block to query those closings and display them on a page? On the backend, a 'business' could be designated with 'priority' levels or something that groups them by how their info should be displayed. 

By doing this, we could then 'force' the businesses/schools/govs/etc to either claim and verify their connections to an entity or add them as a new business entity.

Closing/Late start and end time, a status flag, a text field for custom notes or codes and a simple 'turn it off or on' flag.

Just some thoughts. We are going live on TN shortly but since there is no Closings module, we will have to come up with an alternative plan with our current system.

Just joined this forum community. Looking forward to sucking up all this knowledge!

As someone who is not a business directory subscriber I consider school(other) closings to be a core function of a local news website. I don't think the functionality should require the business directory... I would, however, understand if the system were somehow enhanced or easier to use for BD subscribers. Similar to how you can enter venue information in the calendar now but its not saved to a venue list unless you have BD installed.

I'm looking at adding "something" during November. If TN doesn't come up with a better solution then it will simply be an email address that feeds to a "closings" section and the email subject becomes the headline .... Simple, ugly, prone to abuse... Please TN come up with a better solution.
Hi guys!

We are still looking at something like this, but given the timeframe, I can tell you that it won't be for this year. I will update you as soon as this hits our official roadmap. =)

That's great news! Thanks Christine. 
I'll join the voting for this feature; I like the notice asset idea too. We're trying to determine a way to do this within the current framework -- and have toyed with a cloned breaking news ticker across the top with mixed results. Still a lot of handling needed. We need something that works similar to the calendar submissions --- schools/etc. send an email to a specific address, which ends up as an unpublished asset in our blox system, and then an editor can read and post.

Please add this feature to townnews. On poor weather days I am confident we are losing traffic to other local sites that offer this feature. We're in a school district that averages 15 snow days a year. Folks do not seem to want to email us with their closings; they seem to prefer an easy online submission form with the name of the organization, date, areas for selecting closing or delay and space for a short message. It must be easy to use.

It would be ideal if a new posting would trigger the closings section to be posted atop the main page, and so many hours or so after the latest post, it would automatically archive or be deleted.

Thank you.
Follow-up to my earlier "cancellations" post/suggestion for Town News.  Maybe the guy that created our 3rd party interface would be willing to sell you the coding/function or whatever that he already built?  No sense re-inventing the wheel, after all! We are soooo easily able to add our own schools/churches/businesses, etc.  And then it sorts them and spits them out in a very nicely readable format HERE (no announcements on it right now). It also adds a "new" image for those that have been added in the last 10-15 minutes or so. The guy who wrote the code is my former radio show co-host, had his own software development company (now working for someone else). If you're interested, I could give you his name and number.  This is a screen shot of our admin side:

Hi, has there been any progress on this application?

Thank you,


2 years later now... and 4 years since this thread started....ANY movement on this?? We are going to need to replace our legacy closings system and would love to be able to migrate to a TownNews app.

It's such a simple concept. Reiterating key points from my post from 3 years ago above.

Every entity becomes a business asset in Marketplace.

Each entity has a user connected to it (or multiples of either).

On their dashboard, they click a link to a closings dashboard.

From there, on any entity where they are listed as the user, they have the option of managing closings.

All time and date driven. Group by category. ( connect to Event Calendar?? )

Build blocks to display the closings or lates or cancels or whatever.

Allow logged-in public users the ability to 'tag' a business for notifications and alerts.

Simple mobile interface for quickly placing a closing.

Allow businesses to add a coupon (if at level >=X priority) to a closing. i.e. "School out? Get 20% off at X store"

Store all closings for quick reactivation or reuse.

See? Simple!  :)

One thing I would add is the need to generate a link/banner on the homepage or any other pages when any listing is marked as closed/delayed. This banner would send people to the page with  they all of the listings and where they could search for specific ones. That way no one would have to monitor the list to decide that the banner is needed and the banner wouldn't need to be on the page when everything is open.

Hi Maureen,

We had that on our legacy site before the switch to TN. Simple logic to check if there were or were not closings for the day. If there were, button showed. If not, no button. Should be simple for that be done in TN, also. 

We did (and still do) keep a link on our nav bar so that folks could easily find their way to post a closing whenever the need arose. Hoping this gains some traction. We had the majority of the work done but the main guy who was putting it together was RIF'd, so it came to a grinding halt.

We have our own closings set up that allows an organization to update its status or internal people can do it for one or multiple orgainzations. That's why I suggested adding the banner. We have a script that checks our database to see if anything is not open and shows the banner if needed.

Something that also would help us is multiple language support because we use the data on our http://lancasteronline.com/closings/ page and on our https://www.lavozlancaster.com/cierres/ page. But I'm guessing that wouldn't be needed by a lot of other TN sites.


The silence is deafening on this. We are going to have to kill off our old server that hosts our Weather Closings site and there is nothing to replace it. Now more that FOUR years since this discussion started and still nothing.

I gave the scenario below for the complete integration into TownNews and Marketplace businesses.

Shoot....sell it as its own tool for Blox sites with some method for importing data and I will write TownNews a check myself!

Can anyone from TownNews comment on this??



This is a tool that is so useful and needed. What is the status?


Status? Crickets....... 

If TN implements something like my feature request ( https://community.townnews.com/communities/1/topics/1023-custom-fields-custom-assets-support ), this and other applications will be much easier to make natively in TN!

That way, TN can focus on their main product Blox CMS, and keeping it reliable on heavy loads etc. (that is one plus compared to my previous job handling the full stack), and we would be able to quickly and reliably spring up stuff to try to see what sticks as far as advertising/news stuff goes.

The problem is 2 fold: you can't know what you don't know, and no one has really figured out all the new opportunities for reliably making money online with news sites like ours. So making Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) is key.

On the other hand, every line of code you write is an asset, and TN (understandably) does not want to dump time and money into every new concept and feature request, as that's more potential technical debt to maintain. Given that some new concepts may not work (see above), that's not really desirable for Town News.

So, the ability to quickly/reliably build up/tear down concepts based on arbitrary content types (which we sort of alreayd have with classified/editorial assets and businesses, etc.) would be ideal.

We finally had to shut down our 20 year old Weather closings system so now we have nothing.

I see this now marked as Under Review, but has there been any movement on this?
The newsroom is not looking forward to 24x7 monitoring of incoming closings requests to then update a static asset....which right now I believe is the current plan. 

Had to check since this is now 7 years old. 

I applaud your attempts to get this addressed. It would be nice to hear something other than crickets.