While educational institutions have been acquiring notification systems left and right in order to improve communication on campuses, there are still a good number of schools confused by the complexities of these systems. The problem is that different systems typically have individual activation processes, which in turn slows down the delivery of emergency notifications to those who need to be informed.
Educational institutions are then looking for methods in which to consolidate their delivery methods into one activation portal. It is important for integration and consolidation to occur – after all, ease, convenience and fast delivery can be determinant of whether or not people are informed and even kept safe from untoward incidents and emergencies.
Reliance on Different Vendors
A number of schools have taken on different platforms to deliver emergency notifications to their intended recipients. These platforms include email, phone calls, SMS alerts, social media and digital signage. While these channels have so far proven to be effective, easy to use, and convenient, a lot of institutions still have a hard time relying on simply one vendor or one platform for all their notification systems needs. Also, aside from the discomfort with simply using one system, schools tend to also want to incorporate their own legacy alert systems into the platforms they invest on.
Due to this discomfort, a good number of manufacturers, such as fire alarm equipment, are looking to open their systems in order to aid in its consolidation and integration of other notification systems. However, while efforts are being placed on IP-based interoperable solutions and into integration, manufacturers still have to look into making sure that the security, supervision, and survivability of their systems are not compromised by connecting with other platforms that are not advanced as their own. It is then important that technology is developed to the point that the safety of staff members is not compromised due to its ineffectiveness and inconvenience of use.
Middleware Companies to the Rescue
The integration of notification systems can be difficult for school officials who are not experts in information technology. Middleware companies are then extremely helpful resources for institutions to tap into in order to consolidate their open and proprietary systems. Middleware is software that acts as a go-between an operating system and other applications.
While middleware companies can certainly be good integrators, educational institutions should also be careful when it comes to vetting these contractors. Schools have to make sure that the middleware company they work with have previous experience with the systems they have and the systems they invest in. They also have to make sure that the middleware company they tap into is certified by the manufacturers as this means that aside from knowing the notification systems they will be working on, but that they also have access to parts.
Manufacturers’ Ability to Work Together
While competitors always contend for clients, they also have to be able to work together in order to fulfill both their clients’ needs. This would mean manufacturers have the ability and should have the willingness to collaborate in an effort to create a centralized activation portal. Collaboration makes the market freer, giving clients more options while making technologies more flexible and user-friendly.
However, while collaboration is certainly the goal, it can be a challenging objective to seek. The changes that are occurring in the emergency notification market of late has made it rather unstable, making it difficult for different manufacturers to work with each other and seek solutions.
A close eye must be kept on the market and technology as automation and coordination in the next few years will surely shift.