Changing workforce dynamics and shifts in employee communications preferences mean companies need to (re)examine their current mass notification solution. To be effective, a system must truly meet the needs of today and tomorrow, all while keeping a dispersed workforce safe, informed and connected.
Because disruptive events – man-made or natural – unfold quickly, time is of the essence when you respond. Complicating the situation is a highly mobile employee population, which accesses communications via a multitude of devices and methodologies. So, how can you keep people safe and productive?
A robust mass notification solution
Many situations can initiate the need to quickly communicate with all your employees at once. For example, there are everyday announcements, severe weather conditions, fires, hazardous materials events, IT outages, suspicious people or an active shooter incident.
To ensure your mass notification system is up to par, make sure all the following functions are present and accounted for.
Anywhere, any device, any mode. Imagine your typical employee. Is she sitting in front of a laptop with her smartphone inches away? In a conference room? At a client site? Greeting a visitor in the lobby? No matter her location or device, you have to reach her. A robust mass notification solution can notify staff and visitors via SMS, email, voice, landlines, mobile devices, desktops, digital screens in the lobby or cafeteria or overhead public address speakers.
Multiple channels. In order to accomplish quick communications, the system needs to integrate with your internal contact database. That way, mass notifications can reach employees simultaneously through multiple channels. For example, an employee may get a message across his laptop screen, a text on his smartphone, an email and a call to his desk phone. When it comes to security and safety, redundancy is a good thing.
Different messages, different people. If a tornado is threatening just one campus, not everyone in the company needs the same alert. Your system should be able to target different audiences by geography, function and position. For example, one message can go to executives while others are sent to staff, facility personnel, remote workers and others.
Confirmation. The system should also ask recipients to confirm they received the notification. In this way, real-time reporting can inform company responders of everyone’s location during an emergency.
Collaboration between security personnel. Before any message goes out, someone – or ideally, several people – must assess the situation and decide how to respond. Those responders are probably in a variety of locations, and also on different devices. A mass notification solution powered by unified communications (UC) enables responders to quickly collaborate via live conferencing, voice, SMS or email. Presence technology allows them to locate each other and determine each person’s availability to communicate (and via which device). When time is so important, UC cuts through the “wires” and connects people quickly.
Pre-event readiness. Any first responder will tell you that the first time to think about emergency procedures is not during the event. In extreme situations, planning, training and practice are essential to responding effectively. A good mass notification solution gives you the option of identifying numerous scenarios and preparing detailed messages and announcements – as well as automatic procedures like notifying first responders – ahead of time. It should also allow you, as a security official, to practice using the system so that when an emergency occurs, you’ll know exactly what needs to happen.
Information from the edge. The Internet of Things (IoT) provides responders with a treasure trove of data from sensors that can alert you when a machine is overheating and poses a threat. Devices such as motion or gunshot detectors, panic buttons and open-door alarms can quickly communicate information essential for emergency management. With pre-written or recorded announcements, responders can initiate a mass notification at the touch of a few smartphone buttons.
Even though today’s communications are varied and complex, getting urgent messages to your employees doesn’t have to be complicated. With a UC-based mass notification system, you can reach your people no matter where they are and get them to safety.