Tools to Reach Everyone

Ease of use makes the difference for emergency notifications.

GUEST COLUMN | by Pat Scheckel

CREDIT singlewire InformaCastDuring a school emergency, time is crucial. Whether its an injury, intruder or active shooter, notifying personnel of the situation in a timely manner to start responding and managing the crisis can make all the difference. But, it’s not just about having the proper procedures in place, it’s about having the tools to reach everyone, wherever they are in a building or campus. To help with this challenge, many schools are implementing emergency notification systems are to bring together disparate systems and notify everyone. However, with rapidly changing technologies, it can be difficult to know which solution will be the best fit for your school.

Schools should look for systems that are easy to use, offer multiple message options for notifications, alerts to help manage almost any scenario, and new technology that leverages investments in existing systems.

Schools should look for systems that are easy to use, offer multiple message options for notifications, alerts to help manage almost any scenario, and new technology that leverages investments in existing systems.

Easy to Use

In an emergency situation, asking for help should be as easy as a push of a button. Whether that’s a discreet panic button, a built-in feature on a desk phone or the swipe of a smartphone, the last thing you want is for people to worry about remembering a complex set of steps to trigger a notification. It’s also important to utilize a system that can send to multiple communication methods with a single push. Systems that offer the ability to build groups make it easy to notify everyone on multiple devices without the need to draft and send separate messages.

Multiple Message Types

When sending a message, it’s important to be able to provide the appropriate amount of context. Look for a system that lets you send text, audio, and images to give your staff the information they need to manage the situation. SMS, push notifications, email, desktop notifications and text to speech functionalities help ensure messages reach everyone, wherever they are.

Respond to Any Situation

A truly robust system will go beyond alerts for intruders. School officials should look for additional features that monitor for severe weather alerts that might impact schedules, and bell systems to automate class changes, recess, and end of day bells. The ability to initiate lockdowns, monitor and record 911 calls and alert people about medical emergencies are also important features for many schools.

Technology Integration

School budgets are limited, so look for a system that can integrate with existing technologies to help save on costs. Door locks, overheard paging systems, panic buttons and other legacy technology should be able to work with an emergency notification system to help keep people safe and aware during an emergency.

Mobile Matters

Perhaps the most important feature to look for in an emergency mass notification system is its mobile capabilities. Mobile devices provide direct access to alert people of a situation. A system that offers push notifications, text and audio messaging, group conference calling and real-time response monitoring can help ensure a successful outcome during an emergency.

Pat Scheckel is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Singlewire Software, the developer of InformaCast, a leading emergency notification system. K-12 schools and college campuses use InformaCast to communicate lockdowns, intruders and severe weather alerts to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.

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