Mass Notification Webinar Follow-up Q&A

Here are the responses to questions asked by the audience during the ‘Emergency Response and Communications – How to Incorporate a Holistic Approach on Your Campus’ webinar.

There were a lot of questions to the panelists from our recent webinar, Emergency Response and Communications – How to Incorporate a Holistic Approach on Your Campus. Below are the responses from Dave Bujak, Emergency Management Coordinator, Florida State University; Jon Evenson, Director of Emergency Management, Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc.; and Berkly Trumbo, National Business Manager, Siemens Industry Inc.

Click here to review the webinar. 

“EZ Button”

Q:  What was the estimated cost for the FSU “Easy Button” security system?

Berkly:  If the hardware is pre-existing like at FSU, a customer could expect to pay between $150K- $200K in integration costs.

Q:  Are there any options available, similar to the “Easy Button” approach, which utilize a smartphone app? If not, do you foresee this option on the horizon? It seems to be a reliable and time-sensitive approach to mass notification.

Berkly:  Custom apps are available today. However, they are subject to the same types of challenges potentially occurring as SMS-based messages experience.  I do not view this as a silver bullet, but a possible valuable new layer to notification. 

Dave:  FSU ALERT EZ – Phase 2 will include a provision for smartphone accessible usage, whether through an app or browser.

Q:  How does pressing a button on the panel notify your social networking sites?

Dave:  Both Siemens Sygnal mass notification system and Blackboard Connect offer social media connectivity.  Both have an API that logs into the respective accounts and posts the information.

Q:  Does FSU have a system for notifying the Emergency Management people that there is a problem on campus?

Dave:  Absolutely. We have a subset of the FSU ALERT system that targets several specific populations: internal university emergency management team members, community first responders, government and NGO partners.  We also notify businesses within range of the campus, fraternity/sorority house managers, apartment complex managers, vendors and auxiliaries. It uses the same technology, but disseminates to different lists.

Q:  Does the “EZ Button” allow for additional details of an incident to be transmitted the same way or to a smaller group?

Berkly:  Yes. After the “global alert” feature is created, the potential for combinations of zones/ groups/rosters is nearly endless.

Dave:  FSU ALERT EZ – Phase 2 will add the flexibility and granularity that you describe, but realize that it certainly adds significantly to the activation time.  FSU plans to reserve this functionality for the second round of messages or those less-than-emergency grey area scenarios.

Q:  I noticed that your “EZ Button” setup at FSU was very simple. What happens if you have to give details as required by Clery?

Dave:  The intent of the “EZ Button” system is that first shotgun shot to tell people, “An emergency is occurring, seek shelter, and get more information.”  Follow-up details would be posted at and potentially sent via a second round of customized messages.

Related Article: Florida State Aims for ‘Easy Button’ Solution to Mass Notification

Technology and Procedures

Q:  Do you use desktop pop-up alerts as part of your solution at FSU?

Dave:  Yes, but as of this time it is limited to our Technology Enhanced Classrooms and student computer labs. A campus-wide solution is on our wish list and pending funding.

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