A mass emergency notification system is a method of communication through which system administrators can simultaneously warn multiple contacts of an emergency situation. The system can send warning messages through multiple channels to alert thousands of people to the risk of danger within seconds – potentially saving many lives.

There are multiple use cases for a mass emergency notification system. State and local authorities can use a community notification system to protect residents. Educational facilities can send early warnings to students and teachers of adverse on-campus events, and enterprises can enhance the safety of their employees by giving them timely warnings of an emergency.

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How a Mass Emergency Notification System Works

A system administrator works with Rave Mobile Safety technology experts to access to the Rave Alert emergency alert notification system. The platform can be accessed from any Internet-connected device, so is an ideal solution for communicating alerts and providing updates from a safe location. The system is populated with contact details using several different methods depending on the type of organization and intended purpose of the mass notification system:

  • In a state or local community, a branded opt-in portal enables residents and visitors to the area to create an end-user account and then select their emergency notification preferences – such as the preferred type of alert notifications and delivery method. End users can enter up to three mobile phone numbers, three voice only numbers and three email addresses.
  • In colleges and universities, administrators can autoload existing student and personnel databases into the mass emergency notification system and give students and staff the option to opt-out. The opting-out process involves sending a “STOP” message by SMS text to a short code number or logging into the campus portal to delete contact details from their profiles.
  • In a corporate enterprise environment, the administrators implementing the emergency mass notification system can set their systems up to be either opt-in or opt-out, depending on their personal privacy policies. Tools also exist to autoload contact lists from HR or other employee databases, and it is recommended supply chain contact details are also added to the system.

In cases where the end user chooses to opt-in and create an account, it’s important to encourage them to complete their profiles as comprehensively as possible. For instance, the end user can include all contact details (mobile phone numbers, email addresses, and social media accounts) to decrease the likelihood of missing an emergency notification when it is sent. Additionally, the end user can make note of any mobility issues, health conditions, or special needs; or of any attributes that may be useful in an emergency - for example CERT qualification or medical training.

Segmenting an Emergency Alert Notification System

When an emergency situation occurs, it may not always be necessary to alert every contact in the emergency alert database. For example, if there is a fire in one neighborhood, it would not be necessary to alert the residents of every neighborhood at once - although it may be necessary to alert residents of adjoining neighborhoods if the fire starts to spread. For this reason, our emergency alert notification system can be segmented into an unlimited number of groups.

Contacts can be placed into multiple groups depending on their (for example) location, role, or any special needs. This ensures only the contacts for whom the alert is relevant receives a notification and prevents the scenario in which every contact receives every message – potentially resulting in people opting out of the mass emergency notification system due to receiving too many irrelevant notifications.

Within each group, system administrators can create an unlimited number of sub-groups. This feature can be useful if you need to contact anybody who is - for example - CERT qualified or medically trained within a geographical area. Mechanisms exist to ensure contacts in multiple groups and sub-groups only receive one notification per communication channel in order to avoid duplication and confusion.

The Emergency Mass Notification System Geo-Polling Feature

The geo-polling feature of our emergency mass notification system is an industry-leading feature that can help emergency managers better prioritize resources during an emergency and help organizations recover after a devastating event. To best explain how it works, let´s take the example of a town that has been struck by a hurricane.

The local emergency manager logs into the Rave Alert system, and selecting the geographical area worst hit by the hurricane, sends an alert in question and answer format. If, for example, the question is “Does anybody need any help”, the answers to choose from could be:

A1: No thanks, I'm okay.

A2: Need food and water.

A3: Need medical attention.

Respondents select the answer most appropriate to their situation via a web link or by using the keypad on their mobile devices. Those who select option “A1” can be eliminated - at least temporarily - from the immediate emergency response; while emergency managers know to dispatch food and water to those who responded with answer A2, and medical attention to those who answered with option “A3”. Search and rescue teams can be dispatched to search for those who failed to respond.

With regards to helping the town recover from the hurricane, the geo-poll feature can be used to coordinate volunteers. For example, if a road needs to be cleared of fallen trees, the alert could ask for five volunteers with tree-cutting equipment. In this instance, the poll is automatically closed as soon as five volunteers have responded to prevent the site being overrun with volunteers whose service may be better used elsewhere.

The Benefits of a System for Mass Emergency Notifications

In addition to providing a platform through which administrators can quickly and simultaneously alert contacts to the risk of danger, a system for mass emergency notifications can also keep contacts informed throughout an emergency situation, and advise them when the danger has passed. However, a system for mass emergency notifications does not only have to be used for emergencies.

  • In communities, the platform could be used to seek help for people in need of non-emergency medical aid. Administrators could send an alert to contacts in their database with medical training to advise them of who and where the person in need is. The platform could also be used to advise residents of community events or road closures.
  • Higher education schools can take advantage of a system for mass emergency notifications to advise parents of school closures due to extreme weather, parent meetings, fundraisers, school activities and other news. Students can be sent library alerts, details of vaccination days, or be kept up to date with how the college football team is performing.
  • In businesses, a system for mass emergency notifications not only enhances an employer's duty of care posture but can minimize the commercial impact of an emergency. The platform can also be used to communicate IT alerts, warn staff of known maintenance issues, and send messages with auditable proof they have been received.

Rave Alert sends all emergency alerts through every available channel. However, for non-emergency notifications, users can select what notifications they receive and how they receive them. For example, students could opt out of receiving the football scores, and request - via the Rave Alert portal - that library alerts are sent to them by text and details of vaccination days by email. Students for whom English is not their first language can also select which language they receive their notifications in.

Prepare for an Emergency before it Happens

Rave Mobile Safety's mass emergency notification system is the leading critical communication and data platform trusted to help save lives. Thousands of communities, schools, and businesses rely on our platform to send the right message to the right people at the right time, as it “cuts through the noise” to deliver important messages to contacts wherever they are, whatever they are doing.

If you are a safety officer who would like to prepare better and communicate more effectively before, during, and after an emergency, please do not hesitate to contact us and request a no-obligation demo of our mass emergency notification system in action. Alternatively, contact our Customer Support team with any questions you have about how best to keep safe the people you have a duty of care to protect.