8 Important Features to Look for in an Emergency Notification System
The five most common ways of alerting employees in an emergency — fire alarms, PA systems, SMS alerts, digital signage, and pager systems — are popular because they work. However, more methods are needed to keep up with innovative technology.
While many emergency notification systems are known for sending and receiving messages through multiple platforms, more capabilities are needed to protect your people. That’s why it’s important to consider a broader range of communication and collaboration features when choosing an emergency notification system for your business.
In this blog, we’ll discuss essential features to look for when choosing an emergency notification system for your business, healthcare facility, school, government agency or community.
Multimodal emergency alerts
It is hard to conceive an emergency scenario in which an employee would refer to their Facebook page or run to their desktop computer to find out exactly what’s going on. But there is a benefit to sending emergency alerts across multiple channels.
On platforms with space for longer messages, like social media or email, you can link to a webpage that explains the procedures for dealing with the emergency at hand. Or, if smartphones are not allowed while on the job on a factory floor or in a healthcare setting, public address systems can be used to reach everyone on location.
Multilingual message options
When selecting an emergency notification system, a great option to look for among the messaging preferences is a multilingual feature. This gives employees an opportunity to select the language in which they would like to receive emergency alerts.
For an employee whose first language is not English, this way of alerting employees in an emergency can help them better understand the message. And if the message contains timely, crucial information, the difference could very well save lives.
Short-form and long-form alerts
The limitations on the number of characters allowed in a text may make it impossible to communicate the full details of an emergency. You could include a tiny URL in the SMS alert that takes employees to an explanatory webpage, but this may not be of any benefit to an employee with an older smartphone or small screen phone. It can also waste precious seconds if time is of the utmost importance.
Choosing an emergency notification system that allows administrators to send short-form and long-form alerts is extremely helpful. Short-form alerts can be sent via SMS, while long-form alerts can be sent by email. This way, all employees can access their emails to read more about the emergency, the best evacuation route, or the location of emergency supplies.
Targeted alerts for groups or individuals
When it’s unnecessary to send an alert to your entire employee database, the option to segment alerts by role, location, or other attribute allows administrators to message groups of employees who are affected by the emergency.
For example, this might be used when alerting employees in one part of a business campus to a fire. Or, if the facilities are threatened by an active assailant, one can order a lockdown in some buildings and an evacuation in other buildings.
Being able to alert employees in an emergency sequentially or in targeted groups can mitigate business disruption and help businesses recover quicker from an incident. This feature can also help maintain calm and better organize the response to a threat.
Emergency notification message templates
When time is of the essence, notification templates can speed up response to an emergency — and even save lives. Choose an emergency notification system that comes with pre-built messaging templates for common events, like natural disasters or power outages.
Helpful emergency message templates to have on hand include:
- Inclement weather alerts. Consider your location and what type of weather threat is most likely; e.g., hurricanes in the Southeast United States or wildfires in California. Focus on messages for these events first, but don’t discount other types of natural disasters that can occur, just in case.
- Office closures. If part of your facilities are down for maintenance, or your buildings have been damaged by severe weather, let your employees know in an instant if they should not come to the office. Include information about working remotely and when your facilities will reopen.
- Evacuation protocols. Where should your people go if a fire, tornado, or earthquake occurs? What if an active shooter is threatening the building? What if stairwells or key entrances are blocked? Make sure all of your key information is included in this type of template.
It’s also helpful to find an emergency notification system that allows customization of your messages. This may seem counterproductive if templates are available. But the ability to customize a message with your facility information, contact information, or necessary actions to take is invaluable.
Easy user experience
Not everyone in an organization is comfortable with using modern technology. And in an unexpected emergency, the last thing your employees need is to be overwhelmed or confused by your emergency notification system.
Ease of use is vital in protecting your employees. A system should be intuitive and simple for both users and administrators. This helps employees feel more confident in their safety, which builds resiliency in teams and organizations.
Integration with existing systems
An easy user interface is important, but an emergency notification system that’s easy to implement on the backend is important, too. A system that integrates with existing business systems means protection and security can be up and running in days, rather than weeks or months.
Many businesses already have communications infrastructure that, if ripped out and replaced, can disrupt operations longer than necessary. Make sure your emergency notification system integrates with systems like employee databases and human resources for a smooth and seamless transition.
Surveying and anonymous messaging tools
When you need to check in with your team during or after an emergency, an automatic surveying tool can be handy. This tool helps administrators solicit responses in real time, across multiple platforms, without the need for an app.
What about preventing threats before they happen? A 2021 report on school violence found that targeted violence is preventable when warning signs are identified early. An anonymous two-way text messaging platform can play a key role in stopping threats from escalating.
Threats to the health and safety of your employees don’t always come in the form of severe weather or active assailants. Unfortunately, workplace safety can be threatened by safety issues, health concerns like COVID-19, and harassment or violence from other colleagues. Surveys and anonymous text-to-tip tools can encourage employees to report incidents and make the workplace safer.
Use the right emergency notification system to protect your team
At Rave Mobile Safety, we know that choosing the right emergency notification system for your business can be a daunting task. Understanding the value of the key features discussed above can help you make your decision more easily and with confidence.
Rave Mobile Safety is a leader in communication and collaboration solutions for corporations, but also healthcare, K-12 schools, higher education, government agencies, and more. Our suite of solutions has everything you need in an emergency notification system, such as:
- A secure, multimodal mass notification system that offers unlimited messaging and templates in 60+ languages
- A personal safety app that protects employees with check-in features, safety resources, and anonymous text-to-tip systems
- An online portal for sharing and accessing emergency policies and procedures from any device
- An emergency tool that activates quick response and real-time collaboration with emergency responders
- A user-friendly interface and reliable performance, trusted by thousands of customers worldwide
To learn more about Rave’s prepackaged solutions for corporations, or to learn about customizing your own solutions package, schedule a demo today.