Loyola University Adopts Talk-A-Phone Mass Notification System


There is an increasing need for a mass notification system that will allow authorities to immediately contact the campus community during an urgent situation. Immediate mass notification can have a tremendous impact when the difference between minutes and seconds saves lives.

Loyola University Chicago’s campus kept that in mind when selecting Talk-A-Phone Co.’s Wide-Area Emergency Broadcast System (WEBS) for its mass notification solution.

The I’s Have It
Clear communication is fundamental to American life. From the first amendment to our constitution, which guarantees “the freedom of speech” and from the words of our first Chief Justice, “to listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well” all the way to the Clery Act of 2008 – the act mandating that our communication systems adjust alongside recent changes in technology and circumstance – there is a recognition in America not only of a universal right to speak, but also of a right to listen.

The Ears Have It
The amended Clery Act requires that “current campus policies regarding immediate emergency response” be structured so that proper authorities are enabled to “immediately notify the campus community upon the confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or staff occurring on the campus.” (Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics, 2008 Amendments; Sec. 1, J:i).

Institutions across the nation are seeking a substantive solution to meet these recent demands, with the issue of immediacy sitting squarely atop most lists. There is a need for a system that will respond to the urgent call for immediate mass-notification, on any scale. Whether notifying an individual person, the people of a specific building, the campus at-large or anywhere in-between, security officials need reliable access to the ears of the campus community.

To meet these ends, security consultants advise a strategically layered approach to mass-communication systems. An excellent example, Loyola University Chicago, striving to maximize the security of their urban campuses, continues to advance its layered approach to mass-notification.

Loyola has selected Talk-A-Phone Co.’s Wide-Area Emergency Broadcast System (WEBS) for their campus. Adding WEBS as a prominent layer to their security system, Loyola is bolstering its ability to send and receive emergency communications by providing a notification method not easily ignored. Officials can loudly broadcast information through the open air to address the campus at-large, or, can select targeted clusters of WEBS enabled devices to address specific areas as-needed.

Talk-A-Phone describes the system’s mission as “right message, right people, real time.”  The goal, as Loyola’s Director of Environmental Services, Bill Curtin states, is to provide a way “to send emergency information campus wide to the people who are outside and unlikely to receive the information by way of other methods.”

Between The Lines
A silent strength of the system is its inherent flexibility. By enabling authorities to initiate emergency communications from both a remote location, as well as on the scene through one of the emergency phone installations, WEBS empowers security officials to manage each unique situation with a unique response. Interwoven with a layered security system, Talk-A-Phone’s WEBS affords officials a more controlled and powerful response.

The fully IP nature of the WEBS system being installed at Loyola is well suited to its environment. A dual-campus institution, Loyola authorities now have the ability to send mass-notification messages to both campuses from a central location. Centralizing the emergency response, WEBS will enable the university to prevent miscommunication between the two campuses should an emergency occur.

Sound Foundations
Loyola University has an existing network of ADA-compliant Talk-A-Phone emergency phones upon which their mass-notification system is constructed. Placed in a variety of locations, including “exterior walkways, residence hall entrances, and in the buildings themselves,” the university’s emergency phones, explains Curtin, are primarily used for “personal safety and reporting emergencies such as medical assistance.”

The emergency phones have been neatly sewn into the fabric of college life, providing a variety of means for reliable, two-way communication between security authorities and the campus community. The familiar always-lit blue light atop Talk-A-Phone towers and wall-mounts provides comfort to passers-by who know that help is only the push of a button away, and the million candlepower strobe is activated at the moment the emergency call is initiated, attracting attention and deterring crime.

As Curtin highlights, not only do “the bright blue lights give people a sense of safety in knowing that assistance is always close by with a simple push of the button,” but because of the reliability of the product and the psychological benefit of knowing that security is close by, the phones have been “very well received by all of the students, staff, and faculty.”

In addition to being able to have high-power concealed horns in a WEBS tower, Talk-A-Phone manufactures a selection of units for other locations. Using high-power speakers for venues where clear, one-way communications are desired, the WEBS-PA-1 – a POE capable IP paging unit – provides Wide-Area Emergency Broadcast capability for indoor areas such as classrooms and dormitories. Its outdoor counterpart – whether IP or analog – the WEBS-PA-2 unit employs the power of two concealed high-powered side-speakers, allowing 180° coverage, in a unit designed to resist extreme weather conditions.

These paging units, just like the two-way emergency phones used by Loyola, are able to be singled-out by WEBS for individual broadcasts, paired uniquely into selected groups, or used as part of in an all-call.

Layer Upon Layer
Whether built upon an already existing network of ADA-compliant Talk-A-Phone emergency phones, or freshly installed to meet the most recent demands of the Clery Act, WEBS is now being integrated with security systems on campuses throughout the country. Providing robust response capabilities, WEBS, a powerful component of a complete security system, lets your voice be heard – loud and clear.

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