A strong weather system is due to pummel the area by nightfall.
A forest fire is only miles away and creeping steadily closer to town.
A bomb threat was called in to a mall at the city’s center.
Each of these situations can benefit from the use of a notification system to warn citizens of the threat and permit them to take any necessary actions to ensure they and their loved ones remain safe.
Early warning systems have the power to make a sizable difference in terms of being able to protect people and property whenever an emergency situation arises. Emergency notification systems can help convey vital information concerning any incident in a timely manner so that families can properly prepare themselves.
Such systems are extremely beneficial for a number of different reasons. Here are 10 ways that communities can benefit from employing an emergency notification system to alert residents:
1. Save time and increase notification efficiency
Having a system that can send notifications automatically to large lists of contacts can help reduce time spent collecting contact information and manually sending alert notifications to each person that needs to be notified. Automating alert sending can save emergency operations staff valuable time that they can spend performing other important tasks.
2. Prepare notification templates in advance
During emergencies, preparation is key. The more you are able to prepare in advance, the smoother the emergency resolution process will go. A web-based emergency notification system allows for the creation of generic emergency notification templates in advance and stores them in the system to be used and updated whenever they are needed.
3. Multi-channel communication increases timeliness of notification receipt
Imagine sending an emergency notification via email to a recipient who rarely checks their email and therefore remains oblivious to a threat. A potentially dangerous situation, right? A system that is able to take advantage of all the popular communication methods (such as email, SMS, voice, fax, and social media) and send an emergency notification to all these methods with a single blast to ensure all contacts are made aware of the situation as soon as possible.
4. Send to contacts’ preferred method of communication
The other side of the coin is that some contacts don’t wish to receive a notification blast to all their various communication channels at once. An emergency notification platform can allow users to send only to contacts’ preferred communication methods, meaning that they are not inundated with messages, especially if they regularly check at least one channel. If no preferred method has been indicated by a contact, mass notification systems provide a fallback through each available channel until it finds a method through which to send the emergency notification.
5. Target specific contacts in geographic regions
There is a threat of a shooter in a community and residents need to be warned to take shelter in their homes. However, only the residents of this community need the alert. With some emergency notification systems, it is possible to send messages to only those who are listed as residing in a certain geological location by outlining a region to send to.
6. Have contacts confirm receipt of the notification
The emergency notification has been sent, but how can you know that every contact has received the message? By enabling a confirm receipt function, recipients of the notification will be required to indicate that they have opened and read the alert. With this feature, you are able to tell which contacts may need to be sent the message again or that another contact method may be necessary to reach them.
7. Share results with other organizations
Another benefit of an emergency notification system is the ability to share receipt confirmations and other results from the blast with other stakeholders by sharing them to a common operating picture. Since the system is web-based, it’s easier to provide access to other users in other locations who may benefit from the information. Ensure only those with proper clearance can view the information by instituting proper permission controls.
8. View detailed reports after the emergency
Once the emergency has been dealt with and everyone is safe and sound, the results of the emergency notifications that were sent are automatically gathered into online reports that can be viewed and archived. These reports can contain as little or as much information as desired, from the names of all contacts that were sent the alert to which communication method they used to confirm the notification.
9. Optimize notifications for future emergencies
With all the data collected from past incidents, notifications can continue to be optimized to be even more efficient for the next emergency that comes along. Perhaps it was noted that SMS was the communication method used the most often by contacts to confirm they received of the notification. This may cause officials to change their fallback order so that the system looks for an SMS number before searching for an email address. By having this data on hand from previous emergencies, the process can more easily be updated and refined than if there were no such data collected or if the notification process was completed manually.
10. Day-to-day use increases familiarity with the process
Practice makes perfect. The more a process is utilized, the smoother things will go when it is needed next. One of the largest benefits of using an emergency notification system is that it doesn’t only have to be used during emergencies. There are multiple ways a notification system can be used for everyday situations and tasks, such as notifying the public of road closures and detours. Through daily use of the system, officials will become more comfortable with it and will therefore become more confident in its usage during an actual urgent scenario, thus increasing efficiency and reducing uncertainty.
The primary goal during an emergency is to ensure the safety and security of all citizens and with an emergency notification system this goal is more achievable than ever. A proper system allows for fast and comprehensive alerting as soon as an emergency scenario has been identified and will include detailed reporting capabilities for officials to keep track of which citizens have and have not received the notification. A fully robust system takes advantage of alerting using multi-channel capabilities, the ability for contacts to confirm they have received the message, as well as multiple contact selection methods to be sure that only those who need to be contacted will be.