University life is all about independence. It's a time when young people mature into adults and learn how to be self-sufficient and responsible. But when it comes to safety and security, university students rely heavily on their college of choice to keep them safe and informed when an emergency occurs. A modern emergency notification system gives universities the tools they need to keep everyone on and off campus informed of an incident and how it's being handled.
Now is the time for higher education institutions to re-evaluate their mass notification solution to see if it's capable of handling the demands of today's mobile-centric student body. Having a modern communications system in place before disaster strikes can make a world of difference that can save lives and transform your campus into a stronghold that keeps students secure as they continue their academic journey.
Required courses: A modern mass notification system
There are certain core requirements that form the foundation of any modern mass notification system. For starters, the system should be simple to install, with set up taking no more than half a day. It should also integrate with other hardware and software and scale with your needs.
Flexibility and mobility are also must-haves. Campus administrators need the ability to create an unlimited number of notifications, including live, pre-recorded and scheduled messages, and they should be able to initiate alerts even if they are not on campus grounds. Alerts should be delivered to all communications channels and devices, such as email, SMS, desktop and mobile, to make sure that everyone gets the message no matter what device they're working on or where they are.
The ability to plan for events ahead of time allows universities to respond faster when an incident occurs. A modern mass notification system lets you create a plan for different scenarios. You can identify the trigger for a specific event, what communications methods will be employed and where notifications will be sent. Rather than having to think about how to respond in a given situation, you already have the appropriate response in place and can put it in action immediately.
A major in campus safety
There are some unique challenges to address when it comes to handling emergencies on campus. Students and faculty are constantly on the go, moving from one building to another and often leaving campus for social activities, internships or to visit their family. You never know what device someone is on at any given moment. A student may be texting a friend on their mobile device one minute and then logged on to their laptop to take notes in class the next. In other words, it's virtually impossible to pin anyone down at any given moment. So how do you make sure you can reach everyone when an emergency occurs? Here is a list of some of the additional features a modern notification system provides to overcome the challenges universities face in an emergency situation.
Campus lockdown: Hopefully you never need to use it, but universities need the ability to initiate a lockdown with a single push of a button – from anywhere on or off campus. Look for a silent alarm that uses integrated panic buttons and the option to trigger lockdown by dialing a set number, so professors, faculty and administrators always have a quick way to initiate the process.
Contact closures and sensors: The use of contact closures and sensors on campus can trigger actions such as automatic door lock, immediately keeping those on campus safer during a crisis. Off-limits areas can be monitored and trigger an alarm if someone unauthorized enters.
Multimodal notifications: Alerts must go out through as many means of communications as possible. Mobile, desktop and email are all important channels to leverage, but on campus there are other ways to reach students and faculty who may not be on a device at all. Loud horns and strobes can save the lives of students who may be blasting music, head down in a lab experiment or deep asleep after an all-nighter. Colleges also need the ability to keep parents and family of staff members informed of events and how they're being handled. Emergency response teams need instant notification of an emergency, so they can send assistance, and government officials need status updates during an event. If you can't send communications in every channel available, you'll never be able to reach all of the parties involved.
Digital sign alerts: It's all too easy for college students to miss a notification on their phone or desktop. Digital sign alerts add yet another avenue to spread the word about an emergency to make sure everyone knows what's happening. If you miss someone on their phone, you may catch their attention as they walk out of class or through the courtyard.
Call parking: Universities need a method for handling in-progress calls when there's an emergency. Call parking allows you to put current calls on hold, so you can put your attention on the situation at hand instantly.
Students often evaluate colleges based on the courses offered and the social life on campus. But it's becoming just as important to demonstrate your ability to keep students safe. A powerful and robust mass notification system can be the differentiating factor that makes your university stand out. Make sure you're on the "A" list with a solution that provides features and technology that meets the demands and challenges of campus living.