The increase in violence and unpredictable weather threats is enough to keep anyone awake at night, especially those in the security and emergency management field. Whether it’s a university or office complex, it’s hard keeping everyone safe. Various types of mass notification systems certainly help, but having the tools to communicate with everyone does not mean you’re communicating effectively. These four steps below will help you improve your emergency notification and make sure you’re effectively reaching everyone, everywhere.
Train Your Constituents
Placing Alert Beacons®, digital signage override, and other alerting devices all over your facility is a great first step to reaching everyone. But it’s just that—a first step. You need to train your constituents on what the devices are and how it relates to them. Passing an Alert Beacon in the hall isn’t the same as knowing that in an emergency that Alert Beacon, digital signage, or desktop is going to provide pertinent information.
In addition to understanding what your alerting devices are, everyone needs to understand the messaging. Your constituents must understand the naming conventions and terminology to expect in an alert. If your audience does not understand the message, then the alert was simply not effective.
Multi-Modal, Layered Approach
In an emergency, how can you ensure you reach everyone? If you rely on desktop notification, what happens if the alert was sent while several people were in the restroom? If you rely on mobile applications or texts, what happens if the phone signals are jammed, or the recipient is in an area with poor service? Taking a multi-modal, multi-layered approach to notification is the surest way to reach everyone. Activating all relevant channels including VoIP phones, desktop notification, mobile apps, digital signage, or outdoor notification, ensures that more people receive the message regardless of where they are.
Time is a crucial component to saving lives in an emergency. Creating and using custom presets allows you to quickly send detailed, facility-specific information to everyone. You can create preset messages for common threats like evacuations, intruder lockdowns, severe weather, and more. Using custom text that features instructions that align with your facility’s emergency preparedness plan will tell everyone where to go and what to do. These presets can be stored and activated within seconds when an emergency occurs.
Practice Makes Perfect
Training and testing help all parties involved. Testing allows emergency managers and those who operate the system to familiarize themselves with it and the procedures. Combining testing with facility-wide drills allows students, employees, visitors, etc., to learn where alert devices are, understand the activations, and create simulations to prepare for a real emergency. Many organizations will use their notification systems for non-emergency communication as another way to familiarize everyone with the system. The more practice everyone has, the smoother and more efficient things will run in an actual emergency.
Want to learn more about how to use your emergency mass notification system better? Read “Tips for Success: #1 Simplifying Your System”.