An emergency mass notification system is an approach to manage the direct distribution of messages to one or various groups of people alerting them to an emergency situation. Emergency notification systems which consists of one-way communication is one of the types under emergency communication systems. Emergency communication systems involve one-way and two-way communications pertaining to interactions between emergency communications staff, early responders, and affected persons. A few examples of an emergency notification system are the mass automated dialing services, e.g., Reverse 911 and the siren systems to alert for natural calamities such as tornadoes and tsunami.
Mass notification systems redefined
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has redefined the term Mass Notification Systems (MNS) into a “system used to provide information and instructions to people in a building, area site or other space using intelligible voice communications, visible signals, text, graphics, tactile or other communications methods.”
NFPA redefines the meaning of MNS as well as modifies its name to become Emergency Communications Systems or the ECS. The former MNS is now a broader term as ECS. It expands to a wider area surrounding the building in contrast to the original building only notifications. MNS has been a system used in emergency fire situations and addressing the concerned building to provide instructions through the use of loudspeakers or megaphones with flashing lights. ECS offers wider coverage with its notifications to include the concerned building's surrounding areas as well as a “distributed recipient information” that involves an extension beyond the area through phone calls, SMS and emails.
Wireless emergency notification system
Some mass notification systems can be wireless and facility-wide. A wireless emergency mass notification system provides visual as well as voice alerts in emergency situations in any facility. Schools, universities, companies, residential communities, government agencies, military bases and all types of communities need a mass notification system that can easily reach out to the whole facility to inform them of the emergency so that they can prepare.
A wireless mass notification system provides information as well as instructs the people on the proper way to react in various types of emergency situations. It can play either live or pre-recorded voice messages to communicate the important information to the mass. Some of these mass notification systems can operate as a stand-alone unit. They can also be integrated into the existing systems such as the fire alarm, access control, chemical detection, and others.
Emergency notification in seconds
Another wireless emergency mass notification system is the Wireless UHF or Wired VoIP. This type of mass notification system instantly sends text and/or audio messages throughout all the members in a facility in just a matter of seconds. Using either a Wireless UHF System or a Voice-over-IP system, the instant mass notification is fast and easy. If you want a customized system based on your specific needs, the UHF and VoIP may be combined together.
There may be pros and cons with the selection of either the Wireless UHF or Wired VoIP but the bottom line is that these systems can immediately communicate threats across the entire facility. Even if there is a maximum use or overload of the publicly shared communications, this system will continue to function and serve its purpose.
Other mass notification systems can broadcast intelligible voice commands as well as a facility-wide audio and visual alerting that is suited for high-noise industrial areas. In the military, these stand-alone MNS have the ability to communicate rapidly.
How emergency notifications work
An emergency mass notification system can be categorized as non-discriminating warning or targeted alert.
A very good example of a non-discriminating warning is the air raid siren. Its warning tone delivers a message to everybody within the audible range. This type of system is used to reach a broad part of the population, whether they are a part of the emergency or not. Oftentimes, the air raid siren is used to alert everybody of natural disasters, fire incidents nearby, or a military attack. TV and radio broadcasts are also among the non-discriminated warning.
Unlike the air raid siren, the targeted alert reaches out a smaller group of people (usually less than a hundred). A phone tree is an example of a targeted emergency mass notification system. With the use of the phone's SMS texting feature, phone trees send messages only to people affected by the emergency.
Various companies offer different types of mass notification systems and services that are either non-discriminating warning or targeted alerts. Each of them have their own features but they all serve the same purpose. One notification system may have a competitive edge over its rivals but these companies are always on the lookout for various ways to improve their services and products.
If you are a part of an organization or community in need of mass notification systems, you would find one that suits your needs from the various mass notification systems available in the market.