women on phones

In a survey by Campus Safety magazine, 57% of protection professionals said they plan to deploy new or upgraded emergency notification solutions in 2019–2020. It’s the highest demand compared to the magazine’s last two notification surveys, conducted in 2014 and 2017.

Survey responders included more than 500 protection professionals at institutions of higher education, K-12, school districts and healthcare facilities.

“The increase in demand isn’t surprising considering the wide variety of emergencies in which campuses use their emergency alert systems,” wrote Robin Hattersley-Gray, Editor-in-Chief. According to respondents, the most common situations where their mass notification solutions were successful included:

  • Weather/natural disasters
  • Locating lost patients and children
  • Medical emergencies
  • Power and internet outages
  • Crimes on or near campus
  • False alarm management
  • Rumor management
  • Traffic congestion
  • Construction
  • Gas leaks
  • Reunification

Survey highlights included the following takeaways:

  • Emails and text messages are the most common types of mass notifications in education and healthcare campuses. Text messaging rules in college campuses, with 89% of institutions using this format. By contrast, only 60% of K-12 respondents and 62% of healthcare respondents said their campuses use text alerts.
  • Demand for intercoms/overhead paging has increased across the board to 28% at K-12 schools, 21% at higher ed, and 31% at healthcare facilities.
  • Only 32% have integrated their emergency notifications systems, and 22% are working to integrate their solutions. Higher ed institutions are ahead of the game here, with 43% having integrated systems and another 20% working on it. (More on integrations below.)
  • Who’s in charge of emergency notifications varies, depending on the type of campus. Security directors are most often the ones to deploy emergency notifications in healthcare (78%) and college (55%) campuses. Principals hold that authority at 72% of K-12 schools. Another 58% of K-12 respondents said superintendents can also issue mass notifications.
  • Funds for emergency notifications generally come from the general campus budget at K-12 and higher ed institutions (52% and 51%, respectively). Healthcare facilities are the most likely to tap into emergency notification budgets (36%).(Access the full report here.)

One common hiccup we’ve heard from security and emergency professionals across various industries is the difficulty they’ve had in integrating disparate technologies including:

  • Fire alarms
  • Access controls
  • Audio PA/intercom
  • Security cameras
  • Shooter detection system
  • Two-way radio
  • LCD panels and digital signage
  • LED signage
  • Visual PA
  • Intrusion detection system
  • Door and card access
  • Phone systems
  • Wireless panic buttons
  • PC alerts
  • Email, SMS, pagers
  • Browsers
  • Mobile app

That lack of integration carries three considerable obstacles to adequate emergency response:

  1. When different systems can’t “talk” with one another, your staff has to jump around from one application to another, delaying your emergency response and increasing your chances of human error.
  2. Lack of integration is expensive: Often, organizations feel they must replace entire systems if those systems don’t “play well” with others.
  3. Blind spots abound with non-integrated systems. If you can’t issue alerts in a variety of formats instantly, many of your intended recipients simply won’t receive or comprehend your message. That may happen because their busy, their attention is elsewhere, or they have some kind of communications barrier (e.g. blind, deaf, non-English speaker).

We can reason, then, that by integrating and layering your communications, you can experience the flip side of these challenges:

  1. Easy and fast management of numerous technology systems from a central dashboard, with lots of automations replacing manual processes.
  2. Ability to increase mass communications capabilities without a hefty investment because you’re augmenting the functions of systems you already own.
  3. Ability to layer and automate multiple messaging formats so no recipient or message falls through the cracks.

If you’re looking to upgrade mass notification capabilities dramatically on a shoestring budget, we’d love to show you what our affordable integration modules can do for you!

Request a demo by contacting (317) 564-3208 or layeredsolutions.com/contact.