Tech Tips for Schools: Evaluating Mass Notification ProvidersReelika Tammeoru
To ensure you’re prepared for an emergency of any kind, consider these tips for evaluating a mass notification system.
Mass notification systems serve as the “communication engine” that unites disparate technology into a single platform used to rapidly relay information, a critical component of school safety initiatives.
Finding a trusted mass notification system provider with technology that adapts to your evolving needs is crucial. Schools should choose a provider that offers a simple and reliable notification experience ― one that’s compatible with multiple systems and services, and can provide multi-channel communications to the right people at the right time.
Here are some key tips for schools to consider when evaluating mass notification systems:
Understand Your Technology & Mass Notification Needs
Reviewing and testing existing systems and processes helps clarify mass notification needs and identify potential communications gaps. For example, activating a district-wide notification may be challenging if buildings are equipped with different systems. Notification software can help schools overcome this by connecting disparate systems.
Unite IP and analog systems – Advanced notification systems should be scalable to unite existing analog technology, like speakers and intercoms, into the IP network. This streamlines notification management and extends the life of legacy systems.
Broadcast quality audio to ensure alerts are heard – Intelligible audio is critical when communicating information to speakers in noisy areas, like classrooms, gymnasiums and packed hallways.
Know Your Audience
Whether broadcasting daily announcements, paging faculty or initiating a district lockdown, schools need a system that supports dynamic notifications for various situations. It’s also important to understand which communication mediums are most effective to reach your intended audience.
Activating a panic button to alert safety officers during a classroom emergency may require a more discrete communication process than broadcasting daily announcements across classroom speakers. Robust notification systems should be scalable to simultaneously alert devices, such as:
On-premise communication – IP phones and speakers, intercoms, analog devices, bells/beacons/strobes, desktop computers, panic buttons and digital signage
Off-premise communication – Mobile phones, SMS messages, IM clients, email, text-to-speech services and social networks
Automated Alerts Save Time And Resources
Automation increases safety and situational awareness by eliminating the need for a person to manually activate alerts. Automated alerts are especially beneficial during emergencies when every second can make a difference. Examples of automated mass notifications include:
Scheduled notifications – For routine communication, like daily announcements or school bells
Automated weather alerts – Connect with government agencies that send weather alerts to receive automatic notifications for severe watches and warnings in your area
One-touch activation – Connect panic buttons to automatically initiate emergency procedures for situations like lockdowns and building evacuations
Email monitoring – Alert personnel when incoming emails match specific filters, like email addresses or keywords
Select a robust mass notification system that embraces the mobile-first world to keep everyone informed and connected, no matter their location. Leverage two-way messaging, multimedia push notifications, geofencing support and more to go beyond on-site only and provide information in both emergency and non-emergency situations.
This article was first published by Mitel.