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Industry Insights

Six Points to Consider When Selecting Emergency Notification Systems

May 9, 2011
Source: Metis Secure Solutions

In the simplest terms, effective emergency notification gets the right message to the right place at the right time. The bottom line is that you will need multiple layers of technology to deliver targeted, actionable information with urgency. Consider the following issues when selecting ENS solutions.

  1. Message speed. Sending thousands of messages in a matter of minutes doesn't mean that they are received in a matter of minutes. It could take hours for emails and text messages to be received on a busy network during a crisis. In an emergency seconds count.  Measuring in minutes, and hours, means people are at risk. 
  2. Actionable information with a sense of urgency. Ask this simple question of your ENS: Will it wake you up in the middle of the night and give you enough information to make the right decision? Emergency information must not only arrive at the right place and time, but it must demand attention in relation to the degree of urgency.  People receive multiple text messages, email and phone messages every day.  Those technologies do not effectively separate urgent messages from day-to-day communications.
  3. Redundancy. What happens when phone, power and Internet  fail? In times of crisis standard communication options may not be available. Look for multiple, independent communication technologies.
  4. Public notification. Most text messages, emails and phone calls are delivered to individual, personal devices. If you are not in the database, you don't get the warning. A good ENS solution has a public address component to account for visitors and others not signed up for messaging services.
  5. Targeted warnings are more effective. Messages sent to specific locations or segments of the population can be much more detailed and effective.  For example, during a hazardous material release people in different locations need different instruction. Some people should evacuate and others should seek shelter.
  6. Request for Help from a specific location. Many ENS solutions send information only one way. A few provide two-way communications. A request for help may be campus security's first indication that a problem exists and can prevent small problems from growing to significant safety concerns.