Why You Should Consider Adopting an Integrated Emergency Notification Solution

Unifying alarm and communication systems will enable your campus and district to centralize alerting and automate messages.

While VWCC initially turned to SARA to power mass notification for life safety and security, the college now uses the automated alerting engine for environmental monitoring. The system integrates all standalone life safety, security and environmental systems along with voice, data and IP networks for outputting alerts to virtually any device — from smartphones and computer screens to PA systems and closed-circuit TVs. It can bring situational awareness to any screen, setting a response plan in motion based on predefined modes and actions, so detailed alerts automatically reach the people who need to know about an unfolding emergency.

First Responders Require Detailed Information

Alarms certainly indicate a problem — but an alarm isn’t specific. A fire alarm will go off when smoke is detected, but it doesn’t announce where the fire is or where the nearest exits are located so you can determine the safest evacuation route. Most alarm systems use a generic nomenclature. But situational awareness technology generates detailed alerts, including the nature of the alert plus location data — critical information that can improve response times and efficiency.

Location capabilities help responders find those who need help more quickly. So when relayed to the proper onsite personnel and/or offsite authorities, this level of information can help to contain or isolate a situation, often enabling a crisis to be minimized or even extinguished before students or campus residents learn that anything is wrong.

How to Conduct an Emergency Notification Risk Analysis

Adding video and maps to alerts makes them even more specific and would allow teachers and staff to move students away from imminent danger. Having the information to safely relocate will eventually render emergency lockdowns obsolete.

Mobility is in fact a major technology driver with significant implications for campus safety and security and therefore should be part of an overall situational awareness strategy. With mobile dashboards, users have total mobility, enabling better responses to unfolding situations in addition to the ability to initiate alerts and associated response plans more effectively. Mobile devices then become command and control centers for greater situational awareness, mobility and life safety.

Campuses Need Proactive, Integrated Technology Strategies

Emergencies cause panic and highly emotional reactions, opening the door for poor decision-making and costly errors. But information about potential threats delivered automatically and in real time to key individuals, select groups or entire populations
creates situational awareness and the opportunity for authorities and those potentially affected to make the best decisions to protect life safety, property and overall campus operations. By adopting the right technology for centralized alerting, schools at all levels would improve emergency preparedness and response.

So if it’s possible to improve how quickly information reaches responders and make sure that information is as detailed as possible, including location data, video and maps, doesn’t it make sense to do so? No one wants to believe an event with mass losses will occur on his or her watch, but recent events remind us that they can. Fortunately, you can empower teachers, staff and other responders to address a crisis with greater awareness and confidence to minimize injury, loss of life or other damages.

Mike MacLeod is president of software company Status Solutions. For more information, visit www.StatusSolutions.com.

Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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