Mass notification systems

What role does mass notification play in safety program management?

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Image: SingleWire Software

Responding is Pat Scheckel, vice president of product management, Singlewire Software, Madison, WI.

A strong safety program relies on good communication. For large organizations, there are many facets to manage and it can be challenging without the right tools in place. A mass notification system can play an important role in helping to make it easier for organizations to manage and execute their safety programs effectively.

To develop an effective safety program, organizations need to:

  1. Understand the safety situations for which they need to prepare.
  2. Identify who needs to be alerted about safety situations.
  3. Decide what devices and systems will be used to alert people.
  4. Have an easy way to gather people who can respond to a safety situation.

A mass notification system can help in each of these areas. All organizations have a duty to keep their people safe. This starts by identifying potential hazards and exposures. With a mass notification system, organizations can prebuild messages that alert people about a situation and provide instructions to help keep them safe. Whether preparing for a medical emergency, fire or violent intruder, leaders can develop messaging specific to their organization that can be deployed at a moment’s notice to reach people throughout their facility and on mobile devices.

Organizations also need to manage who receives alerts when a safety incident occurs. A mass notification can give administrators the ability to easily load users from an active directory and segment them into groups for specific circumstances. Some incidents may require alerting only a select group that can provide assistance, while more severe situations may call for alerting an entire organization. You may want to alert only people working on a specific shift, or those working on a particular floor or in a certain wing of a building. A mass notification system can offer the flexibility to manage alerts so they reach the targeted audience.

Depending on your facility, it may be necessary to use multiple methods for alerting people about a safety event. A mass notification system can help you manage different devices and systems, as well as unify existing technology. This can help speed up response times by assisting you in getting a message out across multiple platforms simultaneously. Desk phones, speakers, digital signage, desktop computers, mobile devices and more can all relay a consistent message. The more channels an organization uses, the less likely it is someone will miss a message during a safety event.

Once the message goes out, organization leaders need to be able to manage the incident by understanding who needs assistance and what kind of response should be deployed. With the right mass notification system, organizations can receive alerts when 911 is dialed within a facility, send SMS text messages that request a confirmation response, and automatically launch conference calls and collaboration channels to bring together people who can provide assistance.

By being able to manage situations, people and devices from a single system, mass notification can play a critical role in keeping your people safe and informed during an emergency.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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