Leveraging Mass Notification and AI to Detect Environmental Hazards

Organizations should look for AI video surveillance solutions that are compatible with mass notification systems so the reach of video alerts can be extended.
Published: May 27, 2024

Many organizations are rightly concerned about the threat of violent intruders, but environmental hazards can be just as dangerous, disruptive and costly, especially when they are overlooked.

Part of that issue stems from a lack of resources. Organizations only have so many people and sets of eyeballs to monitor hazards. With many organizations being primarily worried about weapons, fights, and other direct threats, indirect perils may go unnoticed.

While many organizations have video surveillance throughout their facilities and grounds, few have the requisite staffing to monitor every feed in real time. This often results in video footage being useful only after an incident has taken place as people look for answers as to how events unfolded.

Organizations can use this information to make changes for the future, but it doesn’t help address issues in real-time as they arise.

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Campuses can adopt a platform that improves the critical workflows of existing surveillance systems by incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) threat detection software with mass notification and incident management solutions.

AI Video Surveillance Is Emerging

Recent advancements in AI video surveillance have made it possible for organizations to actively monitor for any hazard, be it environmental or otherwise. Software can overlay with existing video camera feeds, meaning organizations can take advantage of threat detection capabilities without needing to rip and replace hardware that’s already in place.

This can provide organizations with the ability to detect spilled liquids, smoke, and weather-related hazards like water and snow the moment they appear within a camera’s view. AI threat detection can also identify people in restricted areas or buildings after hours who may be deliberately trying to create an environmental hazard or maybe in an area where an environmental hazard is more likely to occur.

This enables security and facilities personnel to intervene quickly, mitigating the potential negative impact of the detected threat.

However, while AI video surveillance is a powerful security tool, its notification capabilities can be limited, often only being able to send text and email alerts, both of which can be easy for recipients to ignore.

Organizations may need more extensive alerting capabilities, so they should look for AI video surveillance that is compatible with mass notification systems that can extend the message reach and help manage whatever incident has been detected.

Mass Notification Can Bolster AI Video’s Alerts

Mass notification systems offer robust alerting capabilities that can be more intrusive and wide-reaching than AI video surveillance on its own. Messages can be delivered as text, audio, and visual alerts to a wide range of integrated devices, including desk phones, mobile phones, desktop computers, digital signage, and overhead speakers simultaneously.

These alerts can be customized with prewritten text that corresponds with specific hazards, and include an image taken from the camera to show what the hazard looks like. Recipients can then verify an issue has presented itself and respond.

Messages can also be targeted to specific groups and areas in a building. Environmental hazards can be directed at specific facility maintenance personnel who can investigate and deal with the issue. Or, notifications can be restricted to alert specific areas, like the floor or wing of a building, minimizing disruptions while still getting information out to those who need to know.

This helps ensure the right people get the right message as quickly as possible so they can begin to act.

Environmental hazard detection can extend beyond video surveillance though. Mass notification systems can also integrate with environmental sensors, which can provide an additional layer of detection to stay ahead of potential issues.

Sensors can be particularly useful in areas with low camera visibility. Air quality sensors, water sensors, and more can connect with certain mass notification systems to initiate alerts when certain criteria are met.

Manufacturers can use this to understand when volatile chemicals are present so they can evacuate an area, and businesses can use this to understand when data centers might be under threat from leaking water.

Being able to detect environmental hazards helps organizations keep their people safe, and it helps protect business continuity, so operations continue to run as smoothly as possible even when issues are present.

Proper Implementation Helps to Quickly Resolve Issues

Mass notification isn’t just about sending out an alert. Robust mass notification systems also offer robust incident management capabilities to help actively resolve an issue. Organizations can plan multiple messages for different types of events, being able to have an initial alert, follow-ups, and all clear messages lined up and ready for use.

Key stakeholders can be invited to join virtual collaboration spaces or conference calls to share information, assess the situation, and determine the best course of action. Notifications can also be sent directly to recipients and ask for a response, helping organization leaders understand who is safe and who still needs assistance.

Whether it’s a personal injury caused by a slip and fall, structural damage caused to a building, or something else, environmental hazards pose costly risks to campuses.

Time, money, and resources can all be wasted if issues are not dealt with promptly, but to do so, organizations must find the right tools to help identify hazards, communicate with their people and respond accordingly. The quicker this can be done, the less likely it is that someone will encounter a dangerous situation.

Integrators that can help organizations add powerful software like AI threat detection and mass notification to existing hardware investments can provide a cost-effective and valuable solution to stay on top of potential issues and create a safe environment for all.

Terry Swanson is the president and CEO of Singlewire Software. This article was originally published in CS sister publication Security Sales & Integration and has been edited.

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.

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