More Campuses Plan on Investing in Emergency Notification

CS’ latest survey finds that overall demand for emergency notification solutions has increased to 57%, compared to 51% in 2017

More Campuses Plan on Investing in Emergency Notification

The results from the 2019 Campus Safety Emergency Notification Deep Dive Survey are in, and the demand for new or upgraded emergency notification systems in 2019-2020 is the highest when compared to the results from Campus Safety’s last two emergency notification surveys, which were conducted in 2014 and 2017. Now, more than half (57%) say they plan on deploying new/upgraded solutions (31%) or are considering doing so (26%). In 2017, the overall demand was 51%, so this year is seeing a six-point increase compared to two years ago. Demand has picked up most in healthcare (63% now v. 49% in 2017) and on K-12 campuses (64% now v. 58% in 2017).

In the survey conducted this spring, more than 500 protection professionals from institutions of higher education, K-12 campuses, school districts and healthcare facilities provided input on a wide range of topics, from planned purchases, policies, challenges, funding, deployments and successes.

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The increase in demand isn’t surprising considering the wide variety of emergencies in which campuses use their emergency alert systems. Survey participants said the most common situations where their mass notification solutions were successful included weather/natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, flooding, etc.), locating lost patients and children, medical emergencies, power and internet outages, crimes on or near campus (bomb threats, armed suspects, local police activity, lockdowns and officer-involved shootings), false alarm management, rumor management, traffic congestion, construction, gas leaks and reunification.

Emergency Notification Survey Highlights:

  • Although emails and text messages are the most common types of emergency notifications used on K-12, college and healthcare campuses, each type of organization has its differences. Text messaging is king on college campuses, with 89% of higher ed respondents saying their institutions have this type of system. Only 60% of K-12 survey takers and 62% of healthcare respondents say their campuses have text alerts.
  • Only 26% of institutions of higher education have intercoms/overhead paging, while 73% of schools and 76% of hospitals have this type of solution deployed for mass notification.
  • The percentage of higher ed respondents who say they plan on purchasing text alert systems is 19%, which is practically the same as in 2017 (18%). Demand for mobile apps in colleges has also remained steady at 21% (it was 22% in 2017).
  • 35% of K-12 respondents and 46% of healthcare respondents are planning on buying text messaging systems, which is an increase of 7% and 9%, respectively, compared to 2017. Additionally, K-12 demand for mobile apps has jumped 9% compared to three years ago, while healthcare demand has increased 8%.
  • Demand for intercoms/overhead paging is much greater than before at schools, universities and healthcare facilities, with K-12 demand increasing 10 percentage points to 28%, higher ed demand jumping 13 points to 21% and healthcare demand increasing 18 percentage points to 31%.
  • 32% of all respondents have integrated their emergency notification systems, while 22% are working on integrating their solutions. Institutions of higher education are leading the way on integration, with 43% having integrated systems and another 20% working on it.
  • 17% of all respondents say their campuses don’t have multiple systems deployed. It is considered a best practice to use multiple systems so the strengths of one system can compensate for the weaknesses of others. Deploying multiple systems also helps organizations avoid single points of failure.
  • Voice intelligibility appears to be quite challenging for K-12 schools, with 60% indicating it was a problem for them to some extent. More than a third (35%) indicated that outdoor mass notification intelligibility was moderately or very challenging, and 23% indicated that indoor mass notification intelligibility was moderately or very challenging.
  • Healthcare and educational campuses continue to use a wide variety of approaches to entice members of their communities to sign up for their text alert programs. Most hospital respondents (59%) do it during new hire orientations, while email announcements are the most common approach for K-12 campuses (32%). Nearly two in three (61%) higher ed respondents whose campuses have text alert systems encourage enrollment at new student orientation.
  • Who has the authority to issue emergency notifications differs, depending on the type of campus. Although security directors were most often the employees on healthcare (78%) and college (55%) campuses with authority to issue emergency notifications, at K-12 schools, principals were most often mentioned with this authority (72%). Additionally, 58% of K-12 survey takers said superintendents also are authorized to issue notifications.
  • Other outliers to this question are hospitals: 58% said campus emergency management and/or the incident commander can send alerts, but only 7% said police chiefs have this authority. That’s a significant contrast to colleges, where 43% of respondents said their police chiefs have the authority to issue notifications. About two in five (38%) higher ed survey takers said their PR/PIOs and/or presidents can send alerts.
  • General campus budgets provide the most funds for K-12 (52%) and higher ed (51%) emergency notification solution purchases. Healthcare facilities, on the other hand, are the most likely to tap into emergency management budgets (36%).

CS thanks the more than 500 school, university and healthcare protection professionals who participated in this survey. We truly appreciate your input.

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About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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