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OmnilertAug 13, 2014 1:30:00 PM6 min read

4 alert types for your company's ENS

An alert can do many things, so by understanding the functions of different types of notifications, you can more effectively communicate with the rest of your company during a crisis.

When an emergency strikes, there are a variety of ways to react depending on the nature of the event. For instance, you're reaction to an incoming hurricane compared to that of a down WiFi network will differ considerably. As a result, your company alerts may need to achieve very different tasks. We'll tell you about four particularly useful notifications, but first, let's examine a model that's already in use.

Wireless Emergency Alerts
The CTIA, a wireless industry organization, along with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, use the Wireless Emergency Alert system, which is used to inform Americans about potentially dangerous situations.

Within the system, there are three different kinds of alerts, which are delivered as "text-like messages to users' WEA-capable mobile devices," according to the CTIA. The three kinds of alerts are:

Presidential Alerts: Messages directly administered by the President or someone he has designated.

Imminent Threat Alerts: Notifications about man-made or natural disasters such as a hurricane or an oil spill where human lives or property are at risk.

AMBER Alerts: Messages to help the U.S. Department of Justice locate missing or abducted children.

While these notifications are quite specific to the operations of the federal government, there are lessons we can learn from them to use in corporate ENS settings. Each one completes a very particular function and is only used in certain situations. Though the issues facing a national government and a corporation differ, the idea of having specific kinds of notifications to complete certain tasks is one that applies to any business. So without further ado, the following are four kinds of notifications that you can use to enhance your ENS:

1. The basic alert
The function of this notification is rather simple – to make people aware of the situation. Whether your office needs to be shut down because of a burst pipe or your company firewall has been compromised, people need to know about the situation. By informing them of the emergency, people will be know to look out for more information. Make sure to use clear and direct language so there is no confusion among your employees.

2. The instructional alert
Beyond simply knowing there is an issue, people need to understand what action to take. The instructional alert's purpose is to let people know how they should respond to a certain event. In the case of the burst pipe, telling people to work remotely or move to a nearby office might be the best call. Regardless of your instructions, you want to make sure that you are being explicitly clear of what is expected of your workers.

3. The update
While some emergencies are resolved relatively quickly, others can take days to finally be resolved. Even when you first catch wind of a crisis, it may be important to inform employees of the situation for their safety, before you even know the full story. As a result, you want to make sure that you're providing a continual stream of information to employees as it comes across to you. This way everyone is on the same page throughout the course of the emergency.

4. The 'all clear'
Once you've successfully dealt with a crisis, it's time to tell people to resume everyday operations. Depending on who was affected by the crisis, this could span a number of different departments. The all-clear notifies everyone that the crisis has been resolved, what was done to reach this conclusion and, most importantly, that everything is clear to resume.

5. (Bonus Point) The hybrid
Ok, so we may have lied about how many kinds of alerts that you can use in the ENS. There are actually five, but the hybrid is more a combination of the previous alerts. For instance, to keep with the burst pipe scenario, you should alert people of the situation and also instruct them as to what to do next. A similar scenario arises if things have changed regarding the emergency and you need to administer a new set of instructions.

There are no hard and set rules when it comes to what kinds of notifications you should send out, but by knowing the intentions of each, you can make clearer and more direct alerts to your employees. The next step is making sure that everyone receives them. With mobile communication growing increasingly popular, using an omnichannel dissemination strategy is essential to making sure that your entire office is able to receive your messages quickly so that they can respond in a timely manner. By keeping these types of messages in mind, you can be sure everyone is on the same page during a crisis.

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