What are you overlooking during your emergency notification system evaluation?

January 20, 2016

Katharine Dahl

ENS1Over the past few years, Emergency Notification Systems (ENS) have evolved from simple alerting to comprehensive communication systems that integrate phones, mobile devices, email, social media, alarms, and many more communication channels.

ENS now intersect and interact with national weather and emergency systems. They are no longer used for only emergencies. Many institutions leverage emergency notification systems for internal alerting during non- emergency situations. With the latest capabilities, alerts aren’t always blasted out to the entire system. Instead, administrators can segment audiences to ensure the right person is getting the right message at the right time.

When evaluating mass notification systems, a lot of time and effort focuses on system up-time and capacity. Indeed, those metrics are critical to any decision, and many vendors won’t pass that test. However, beyond that first level of analysis, a number of overlooked areas can determine why notification systems, not just the technology – but the system of notifying people of an incident — succeed or fail.


One of the emergency notification evaluation areas I want to highlight today is process.

Lack of clearly defined processes often lies at the heart of emergency notification issues. Fuzzy approval criteria or poorly defined lines of authority can result in a delay, or ambiguous message content can contribute to confusion.

Implementing a sound ENS process includes:

brain• Document clearly defined roles. Identify who can send alerts and what approvals are required. Within your emergency notification system, take the time to set up the proper privileges for your users.

• Establish criteria. Determine which types of notifications are sent to which groups of individuals in what time frames. Separate your management and operations into distinct notification groups.

• Create templates. Whether there is an active shooter or campus closing for a snowstorm, a template lets an administrator send out an alert fast. Pre-created templates develop consistency and make it easy to send accurate communications in highly stressful situations.

ENS_AREAS to ConsiderA clearly defined process is one of 6 overlooked criteria highlighted in the white paper, “Emergency Notification Systems Evaluation: 6 Overlooked Areas to Consider.”

As you implement or upgrade your emergency mass notification system, reduce the likelihood of a failure by considering the entire spectrum of issues in Rave’s full guide here.

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