When an emergency occurs, one of the biggest challenges is letting people know an event has taken place and what they should do to stay safe. In many organizations the onset of an incident sets off a chain of steps that help manage whatever crisis is taking place. But too often organizations are using multiple disparate systems and devices to share information.
This can waste time as people try to get in front of the right device or remember a password to access a particular application.
The more steps involved, the longer it takes, and what’s worse, the more likely it is someone misses a critical step that leaves people in the dark about what’s happening.
Organizations need a simplified, automated process for emergency management, so people are alerted quickly, and no one misses a message. That’s why many organizations have turned to mass notification solutions to help connect disparate systems.
With a connected ecosystem of devices and tools working towards managing a crisis, organizations can deploy a more effective response.
To reap the full benefits a mass notification system offers requires thorough planning. Organization leaders need to identify the emergencies they need to prepare for and understand who needs to be alerted and how.
Certain situations may only call for security team members to receive notifications, while more serious threats require alerting everyone within an organization.
Similarly, particular events may only call for sending alerts as text to display screens within buildings on desk phones, digital signage and desktop computers, while other events make it necessary to utilize every communication channel available.
Keep in mind that the more channels an organization uses the more likely it is that everyone sees or hears a message quickly and takes action.
Once an organization understands the situations it needs to anticipate and how it will alert people if those situations unfold, it can begin configuring its mass notification solution to connect with other systems and devices.
One of the major benefits of a mass notification system is that it allows organizations to add value to existing technology investments without purchasing additional equipment.
This can make is easier to trigger alerts which are then programmed to reach the appropriate people and devices. Notification triggers can be configured using virtual or physical panic buttons, speed dials, keyboard shortcuts and mobile apps.
Automated triggers can be configured to monitor RSS feeds, CAP feeds from the National Weather Service, email or when someone dials 911 from within a facility.
System administrators set parameters on what to monitor for and when the parameter is met, it sets off a sequence of events through the mass notification system. With a variety of triggers available, notifications can go out at a moment’s notice.
The goal is to take the burden off system administrators and reduce the opportunity for human error to leave someone out of the alerting workflow.
When a notification is triggered, mass notification systems can send text and audio to overhead paging systems, IP speakers, IP phones, desktop computers, digital signage, and mobile devices. Alerts can also be sent as SMS text messages, emails and push notifications and as direct messages into collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams.
Leveraging text and audio to mobile and on-premises devices offers greater ability for organizations looking to reach as close to 100 percent of their population as possible during an emergency. Sending messages directly to the devices and tools people use on a regular basis makes it more likely they see notifications in a timely manner.
Notifications can also activate different connected devices via contact closure or other means. For example, flashing strobe lights can also activate to help grab people’s attention. A URL can be sent to select users with a link to a feed from the nearest security camera for real-time monitoring of a situation.
Electronic door locks can also be activated to protect people from violent intruders or to keep people out of sensitive areas.
Organizations often do not realize the full capabilities of the tools they have, and the more connected they can make them the more powerful their emergency response can be.
Of course, preparations and alerting are only two parts of emergency management. The third component is actually managing a situation and bringing it to a safe resolution. Mass notifications can help with this as well.
Following a mass notification distribution, select users can be invited to join a virtual collaboration space via Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex Teams or a conference call.
Key stakeholders can gather quickly and begin assessing a situation to determine next steps. That means a response team can deploy needed assistance much faster than relying on more manual methods.
The final component is sending an “all clear” message to let people know that the emergency has ended and operations can resume as normal. This can be set up as its own message template and triggered and delivered using the methods already mentioned. This helps minimize downtime and disruptions.
Successfully managing an emergency is a difficult goal for any organization to achieve, but using mass notification can help. Consolidating different tasks into a single system that can automate processes and procedures helps save time and headaches. Customizable message templates and groups means the right message gets sent to the right people. No matter if
an organization needs to prepare for severe weather, an active shooter, chemical spill, health crisis, or some other event, mass notification systems can simplify emergency management to keep people safe and informed.