Social media is also a growing mass notification communication channel. Many universities and colleges already use social media to provide regular updates like weather-related class cancellations, and these outlets can also be used for timely emergency updates as they allow two-way communication between students, staff and law enforcement.
Targeted Message Delivery
Through distributed messaging systems, MNS can also broadcast alert notifications and evacuation route directions to targeted areas in the event of an emergency. For example, in an active shooter situation, leaving a building may actually put more people in harm’s way in some cases. Depending on the situation, it may be safer for occupants to move to a different floor or area in the building.
The same could be said about a weather-related issue, where a display board or email notifications would share an alert to take shelter in a basement due to a tornado.
How to Start
When implementing an MNS, it’s critical to assess campus needs as a first step. A risk analysis will help administrators identify modes of communications already in place that can be used more effectively for mass notification. Many student center buildings have sound systems and video screens that can broadcast messages in multiple languages for daily information sharing and emergency communication.
Ultimately, the goal of an MNS is to develop a customized, holistic program that enables communication across multiple platforms. It should be adaptable to reach individuals or a wide-spread community with a custom message – whether an emergency notification or a pep rally announcement.
Thomas Connell is the senior manager for mass notification systems at Tyco Fire Protection Products.