Emergency Notification Systems and Crisis Communication – Blog

Preventing Accidental Alert Notifications

Juliet Hulse By Juliet Hulse

Within the last several months, we’ve seen a number of news stories related to organizations of all different types sending out emergency alerts to their constituents that they didn’t mean to send. This has increased as more active shooter scenarios have made it into media headlines. In an effort to prepare, check, or even test emergency notification systems, organizations are accidentally sending out emergency alerts that are not identified as a drill or test. This might be a flaw with the organization itself or it may be a flaw with the emergency notification system the organization employs. 

 

When choosing the best emergency notification system for your organization, you must do your due diligence to ensure that your emergency notification solution protects you and your people from hackers or security breaches. You should also ensure the system has multiple checks-and-balances to help prevent the accidental launch of notifications. 

 

Use these three tips to protect your organization against accidental launches of emergency alerts. 

 

Security

Customers shouldn't have access to other customers’ data; employees shouldn't have access to customer data or accounts. Security must be at the core of any emergency notification system. Protecting customer data and partner data must be a top priority for each solution provider. With having such a responsibility to our customers, we take maintaining a reliable and robust security posture very seriously. 

 

Protecting customer, client, and partner information is critical to any emergency notification system provider, which is why it is given our highest level of data protection. 

 

Simulator Mode  

Running tests, exercises, and drills of your system is a potential reason for an accidental alert launch. Testing your emergency notification system is of extreme importance to ensure your system is working as it should, but it’s also testing to make sure that the correct people are getting the correct message. In the midst of this testing, it’s easy to send an alert that isn’t marked as a drill or test. This is why we’ve created a special training mode called Simulator Mode

 

As the name implies, this mode is intended to allow an administrator to simulate sending an alert without actually sending any messages. Simulator mode will allow the administrators to compose and simulate sending a message without actually sending anything to the endpoints selected. 

 

All other administrative functions are not impacted by Simulator mode and still function normally. This mode should also create a report for you to review with your team to understand where your drill succeeded and where you need work.

 

Confirmation to Send Notification

As we speak about accidental alerts we might all think of the same event - the Hawaii Missile Launch False Alert.  A message was sent via television, radio, and cell phones that a ballistic missile was on its way to Hawaii and this was ‘Not a Drill’.  Although this was an accidental message alert, it terrified hundreds of thousands of people into thinking they were going to die in the next few minutes. 

 

Within any legitimate emergency notification system on the market today, having the capability to review the content and ‘confirm’ the launch of an emergency message, notification, or action is considered a best practice. Organizations should take this chance to confirm their technology supports this best practice in alignment with properly developed emergency procedures. Verify that your emergency notification system requires this important step in initiating an emergency warning or at the very least provides you with the opportunity to activate the capability.

 

There are many things to consider when choosing an emergency notification provider. The security of your organization’s data, ability to test in a simulator-type mode, and having the ability to confirm the initiation of emergency communications should all be at the top of your list. Read the Buyer's Guide to Emergency Notifications to fully understand what all you need to take into consideration when choosing the best emergency notification system for your organization. 

 

Read the Guide


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