Need to automatically update phone hotline with latest status

I’ve tried all over, and I cannot find what I need. Here’s the long version:

In Jewish law, there is something called an eruv that permits you to carry items outside of a house on the Sabbath. I don’t care what you think of this concept. That’s not the point.

I work for our local eruv committee, and I setup a system of automatic updates.

  • When the eruv’s status is determined for that week, we send out a Twitter update.
  • This can be sent to you via SMS for those who really don’t want to use Twitter or cannot use Twitter on their cellphones. We give full directions on our webpage on how this is done.
  • That Tweet is posted automatically onto our Webpage.
  • We use Zapier to copy that tweet to Facebook.
  • Once it is posted on Facebook, we use to send out that Facebook post as an email.

See what we have here? You can get the eruv status via Twitter, SMS messaging, Facebook, the webpage, and email. Your pick. And, it’s all automatic. I don’t have to do anything once the Tweet comes out.

There is a sixth way you can get the eruv’s status. You can call a hotline. The Rabbi who heads the eruv committee updates the message with the latest status. This is done manually. This Rabbi has to remember to do this. Sometimes, he doesn’t update the status until right before our Sabbath begins. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who still insist on calling the hotline.

At first, I thought “Hey, I can automate the phone hotline too! How hard could it be. Somewhere, someone has a service that I can use. I could simply have it read the last Tweet or Facebook post. Easy-Peasy!”. It turns out this isn’t so easy-peasy. I have yet found anything I can use. I’ve searched If This Then That. I’ve searched Zapier. I’ve called a dozen VOIP service providers to see if they have anything.

I know I could program this (or get someone to program this). All the pieces are there. However, I don’t have the funds or the server to make this a big project.

Anyone has any idea how we can update our eruv hotline automatically with the latest status of our eruv? This is the last piece of automation I want to fall into place.

I’ll be curious what’s available today. In the distant past, both PhoneValet and Phlink provided exactly the features you wanted, but both are long gone.

Thanks for the clue. I want something I can run on someone else’s server, so it’s not dependent upon my particular computer.

However, I’ll contact these companies and see what they have. Maybe one reason these products are no longer available is that it’s easier to provide these services through the cloud. They might have something I can use. Or give me an idea where to look.

I recently helped a local synagogue look for a replacement for their PBX. It was a creaking antique and the phones and parts were no longer available. It turned out the best solution was a cloud based PBX. All they had to get were some IP phones. The cost was under $25 per month which is actually cheaper than their current phone bill.

Everything is moving to the cloud. I suspect one day Apple will release an iPhone and there won’t be anything there. It’ll be a completely cloud based iPhone. And for some reason, it’ll still run out of juice by 3pm.


Is the hotline a VOIP service? Can you upload an audio file to it, or do you have to call it and leave a recording?

If you have to call and leave a recording you could use a variation of this:

to call, jump through the prompts, and then read the tweet out, which gets recorded.

If you can upload an audio file then I would have one of the many processes watching for a Tweet grab it, convert it to an audio file and then upload it to the phone.

I’d check with Twilio, I bet they would love to have someone build that process and document it as “another cool Twilio thing” on their site.

Hope some of those help :wink:



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I know you already know this can easily and readily be scripted for a local computer; but can you further define ‘someone else’s server’? Does your synagogue/rabbi/support group already operate its own website? If yes, it’s quite probable this can be run in your cloud, if not the cloud.

That’s not to say it will not be kludgy, depending on what it takes for your rabbi to do this manually, now. If the audio message can simply be uploaded, like many voice services allow, it shouldn’t be that bad; if it requires manually dialing, and following button prompts, it won’t be super pretty, but it will still work.

Honestly, though, I think reversing the chain might be more effective; a service that tweets what is spoken in the first place would automatically complete your chain. Could anyone (more reliable) besides the rabbi make the voice message, and let the cloud listen and transcribe that to a tweet, etc.? Not entirely clear on who types out that part of the message chain.