Be Sure Your Mass Notification is Effective BEFORE Disaster Strikes.

Be Sure Your Mass Notification is Effective BEFORE Disaster Strikes.

With more mobility on campuses than ever before, the challenges and concerns associated with a mass notification solution rise. In emergencies, reaching cell phones, e-mail, digital display systems, paging systems, on premise phones and computers, sirens, and other types of devices with a single message is critical.

Because safety for students and faculty is a top priority, having a robust network and an integrated system to manage communications is as important as having effective policy, protocols and public safety officials ready to execute a plan. It is important to remember that no one form of communication is made to properly reach everyone effectively and communication doesn’t always go as planned.

Here are a few things to consider ahead of time to ensure success come D-Day.

  • Plan for Incoming messages: Verify that your emergency communication center is easily reached 24/7 via redundant systems, and that it can handle the sudden crush of communication that occurs in a crisis.
  • Train your staff: Be sure your staff understands how to respond when the system is triggered. An emergency response manual should be kept readily accessible, both in hard copy and online.
  • Make it user friendly:It should be just as easy to anonymously report an ill roommate as it is to report a direct threat so that students will become more at ease with the system.
  • Send the right message at the right time: Communication needs to be clear, concise and timely. Be sure your messaging is understandable in all situations of crisis.
  • Plan for power outages: If the grid goes down, emergency notification systems are needed more than ever. Plan to be power independent.
  • Have a back-up plan: Murphy’s Law says that if something can go wrong it will go wrong, and if there’s ever a time that’s likely to happen, it’s during a crisis. Be sure to have a Plan B that your staff is familiar enough with to implement in the time of need.
  • Understand technology can fail. Plan for it: During Hurricane Katrina, three million phone lines were disabled. Mesh networks and similarly redundant arrangements are self-healing. If one path fails, the message automatically gets re-routed around it.
  • Plan to reach everyone: The main goal is to get the right message to the right people at the right time and place…easier said than done unless you plan for it.
  • Expect redundancy: In fact, don’t just expect it. Plan on it.
  • Customize the communication: You may often want to send different messages in different formats to different people, simultaneously. Design your system so that you can send through zones or other identifications, such as emergency responders, staff or students.
  • No method is fool-proof. But if you understand and plan for the many different factors in a disaster, you will be more prepared if an emergency occurs. Does your team have any pre-disaster planning methods that work best for you? Lantana Communications would love to hear about different strategies that universities use, so we can share the knowledge.

    We hope you have a disaster-free day!

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