Emergency Notification Systems and Crisis Communication – Blog

Emergency Notification Is Not Enough

Elizabeth Venafro By Elizabeth Venafro

Traditional emergency mass notification systems for schools and organizations are designed to send fast and reliable alerts in crisis situations to mitigate risk. Unfortunately, simply notifying people is not always enough. Organizations not only need to inform those who could be impacted, but also engage them, manage the situation, and share intelligence with first responders. Even better, what if an organization could prevent the incident from happening in the first place?


Leveraging Modern Technologies and AI


Organizations need to think more broadly about public safety by leveraging new technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) to not only send emergency alerts, but possibly prevent dangerous situations. Take the example of an active shooter -- AI-powered recognition software can enable campus mass notifications to be sent as soon as a gun is visible and inform the community before a shot is even fired. It identifies firearms quickly and relays images to administrators to verify the threat. Once validated, they can inform all relevant stakeholders by initiating pre-defined safety protocols.


Multi-Channel Emergency Communications


Organizations and institutions should look at the way they send messages and how to best engage with their constituents. People use a wide variety of communication channels, so any notification about a potentially dangerous threat should be broadly distributed in order to reach everyone.


Notifications should be sent through SMS text messages, emails, social media, voice calls, etc. Some organizations have regrettably chosen to use an app-only approach, which fails in ensuring the whole community is reached. Estimates suggest only 7% actually download emergency notification apps and only 10% of those users will enable location services. That means you can only reach 7% of your audience in an emergency situation. Mobile apps alone can hardly qualify as safety solutions if they cover less than 10% of your audience.


Omnilert has developed a way to close the app adoption gap for good. The “100% installed” Omnilert Instant App (also available as a conventional native app in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store) provides the complete app experience to users without requiring them to download or install anything. It ensures the rich functionality of an app can always be accessed by subscribers, equating to a 100% installation and adoption rate.


A Scalable Approach


Interactivity is also key in emergency communications. Emergency notification systems for schools and organizations should allow for two-way engagement between the community and the emergency response team. The systems need to be able to divide people into groups based on their responses in order for administrators to engage and communicate with them in a contextual and scalable manner.


There is often a large influx of incoming information to parse through in these situations. This "data tsunami" can lead to confusion and devolve into pure chaos. There needs to be a trusted single source of information and that information needs to be relevant to that particular individual.


Reaching Your Stakeholders


Today’s technology can play a significant role in prevention, notification, engagement, and management of critical events. Organizations and institutions should embrace these technologies to not only alert communities, but engage potential victims, manage dangerous events, and prevent the incidents from taking place altogether.


Do you know how best to reach each individual within your community? Have you prepared messages for each channel? An emergency notification system, such as Omnilert, can employ multiple channels — an Omnimodal approach — to guarantee the message is received. We created a checklist to aid in your emergency planning.


Download the Omnimodal Checklist

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