Mass Notification Systems: Critical Information You Need, When You Need It
Imagine an emergency event occurring at a local school or office. Over the years we’ve grown to expect an alarm to sound. In a society where information and communication reign supreme, is a simple alarm enough to make us feel safe and informed as to how to respond should a tragic situation take place?
Imagine an emergency event occurring at a local school, office building, factory, airport or shopping plaza. Over the years we’ve grown to expect an alarm to sound or a bell to ring in such an event. These notifications alert us that we must evacuate a building or shelter in place, but they only tell us so much. In a society where information and communication reign supreme, is a simple alarm enough to make us feel safe and informed as to how to respond should a tragic situation take place?
In many facilities the public has said no, and facility owners have begun installing more advanced mass notification systems. These systems can alert us of an event via voice notification, text message or even computer pop-ups, to provide clear instructions on how to proceed. Mass notification systems can integrate with lighting controls, take over television screens and even alert people outside of the facility itself, giving them instructions to avoid entering a facility and stay out of harm’s way.
According to NFPA 72, an emergency communication system is “a system for the protection of life by indicating the existence of an emergency event by communicating information necessary to facilitate an appropriate response and action.” If you are thinking that a simple horn and strobe will meet that need, you are correct. A horn will alert you to evacuate, and instinctively you would leave the building. What that horn may not tell you is where the danger is, for example, in a fire situation in a multistory facility, it won’t tell you if that the floors below you are on fire and you need to exit by going up a floor. Suppose in this scenario that you are working and have headphones on, you may not hear that horn to know to evacuate, but what if your laptop screen were to freeze with an emergency message; now you are alerted and informed.
The Power of Mass Notification
Mass notification systems can use voice messages, visible signage, text or email, and other tactile communication methods to communicate an emergency event. Using numerous communication tools these systems can be customized to meet your individual facility needs, programmed to communicate the exact message you need building occupants to hear. Industry-leading manufacturers are taking this a step further by creating platforms, like the Unified Notification Platform (UNP), that pool communication devices on a property together to safely and efficiently communicate critical information. These devices can be alerted by a trigger on a fire panel, an alert from gunshot detection devices, motion sensors, admin-activated paging etc. and can communicate an emergency both on and off property. Imagine if gunshot detection in a school alerted the facility of an emergency event that triggers the appropriate emergency response and then can communicate out to parents and guardians. This automated communication is what the UNP aims to bring to building occupants and their loved ones.
When an emergency occurs, seconds count. Clear instructions in a unified response efficiently and effectively improve outcomes for occupants and first responders. A simple horn and strobe notification could not provide that level of direction or that peace of mind. In a world where we have grown to expect the unexpected, mass notification systems provide an extra level of security when we drop our children at school, enter a building or sit down in our workplace, knowing that systems are in place to keep us informed and safe if an emergency event takes place.
Click here to learn more about the NOTIFIER Connected Campus, including the Unified Notification Platform.
Cheryl Hayes – Mass Notification Business Development Manager, Honeywell
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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!