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.
Considering the modern landscape of liability and accountability, make sure that the chosen integrator has the ability to be bonded and the appropriate levels of insurance as well as documented design and deployment methodologies, a mature continuity of operations plan, depth of support personnel and a demonstrable project portfolio.
Deploy a Scalable Platform
Choosing a platform suitable for future growth and scalability is tantamount to cost savings across the lifecycle of an ECS project.
Make sure that licensing and service agreements are well defined to eliminate unforeseen ongoing costs and carefully weigh the pros and cons of software as a service (SaaS) and lease/charter type plans as opposed to outright purchases.
Perform a technology and infrastructure audit to identify alerting modalities that are potentially available but unknown or underserved on the campus. The 2009 National Campus Safety & Security Project (CSSP) Survey makes several recommendations related to improved communications.
“The capacity for audible broadcasts within campus facilities is another area in which communication can be strengthened, as only about 25 percent of respondents reported that audible broadcasts can be communicated in all residence halls…”
An often overlooked and powerful modality for audible alerting are the fire system speakers found throughout most campus. The proper system will grant end users the ability to broadcast voice announcements across these speakers via an existing head-end, VOIP/ PBX phones, or by interfacing with a giant voice or siren solution.
Use a scorecard to prioritize modalities already in place: Digital signage (LCDs and LEDs) is an effective channel for visual alerts as are desktop computers; hand held radios may already be in the hands of facilities personnel; call boxes and blue light phones can serve in several ways; and look to leverage the popularity of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
ECS is evolving towards a holistic solution model as opposed to a collection of complex and disparate applications. Technical advances are affording end users more options regarding a consolidated approach to critical communications and incident management professionals are seeking scalable solutions which will make the most of legacy systems and future investments. Emergency plans based on best practices, a trusted and reliable partner as an integrator, and a robust platform that is efficient, scalable and flexible will pay dividends far into the future.
Berkly Trumbo is an Emergency Communications Systems (ECS) specialist with responsibility for Florida and the Caribbean related to emergency communications technologies.
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