Aligning Emergency Communications Investment with Organizational Strategy

In order to deliver maximum return on investment from emergency communication systems, choose a platform suitable for future growth and scalability.

The safety and security of students, faculty and the general public is now part of the strategic agenda of nearly every institution of higher education in America. The same can be said for many in corporate America as well.

This shift in the way that organizations are approaching public safety related projects is prompting new ways of evaluating and implementing emergency communications technologies. However, reconciling the pressing needs of public safety with the economic realities of running a school or business require administrators and managers to do the math and assure that, for whomever is paying the bill, the investment actually delivers a return—and an effective mass notification solution.

Budget challenges continue to be a pivotal discussion. Demanding more out of our IT investment is a well established trend that should also hold true for emergency management solutions. A recent study shows that despite the fact that 63 percent of colleges and universities upgraded emergency communications in 2009, less than 13 percent of respondents are using grants to fund these projects.

In order to deliver maximum return on investment (ROI) from emergency communication systems (ECS), a holistic solutions approach must be taken which involves the Plan, the Partner and the Platform and must fit the culture while supporting the strategic goals of the organization.

Plan Based ECS Design

Oftentimes technology purchases end up dictating the plans and protocols with which they are used. Plan based ECS design means that the technologies put in place to support crisis management functions, embrace established processes and not only streamline mobilization, but dovetail with emergency management, recovery, and reporting requirements and applications.

Bring all players to the table. The most comprehensive emergency communications systems are designed with the input of multiple stakeholders. Only when representatives from numerous departments such as Public Safety, Marketing & Public Relations, and Facilities come together can an emergency management and communications system be tailored to serve the needs of all involved groups. Additionally, existing stand alone software and hardware are sometimes uncovered that bring value to the broader solution, the whole truly being greater than the sum of its parts.

Partnering for Integration and Future Functionality

Vendor selection is oftentimes more than half of the equation when it comes to successful technology integration projects. Whether early on in the ECS design phase or when considering multiple layers of an existing mass notification system, choose a partner for the long term and develop a technology road map together.

Leading technology analysts insist that CIOs align IT spending with strategic goals of the enterprise. Partnering with an integrator that understands not only the strategic goals but the desired key performance indicators (KPIs) related to emergency communications will provide superior value compared to a task order approach via multiple vendors. Identifying desired command and control functionality early in the solution design process can save dollars and time as opposed to tying all systems together in the final phase.

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