When implementing your critical communication platform, the importance of carefully considering your use cases cannot be understated. Not all alerts are of equal value to all people. Consult stakeholders, existing response plans, and other areas of the organization. Document the critical event and what the response should be.
- - Who should receive the notification(s)?
- - Which endpoints should the alert be sent?
- - What actions or procedures should be given to your people to follow?
Presumably, the platform’s focus will be on delivering communications of a critical or emergency nature. Depending on the environment and nature of the organization’s operations, there may also be a need to include other non-critical or non-emergency use cases. These can coexist with critical communications, but planning is essential to ensure the long term effectiveness of your alerts. If your critical communication content is diluted with often irrelevant alerts or targeting the wrong subscriber base, then people WILL start to ignore them altogether. And as a result, they will miss or ignore future critical alerts that may be intended to keep them safe. Once you reach this point, it can be difficult to undo the damage.
First, be sure your subscribers are organized into appropriate groups so the right people are targeted. They could be organized by location, department, type of alert, response team, etc. Your people must receive alerts that are relevant to their day to day activities and their environment.
Next, review your documented use cases. What percentage of these are critical alerts vs. non-critical? Note that a critical alert can be considered anything critical to personal safety or business continuity. Keep non-critical use cases to a minimum and have a defined decision-making process for sending these types of messages.
Also, consider what channels should be used when sending the alert. Since email and texts are considered routine communications, it’s appropriate for non-critical alerts; however, when something major happens, then as many endpoints as possible should be included - email and text, phone-calls, digital signs, PA systems, and social media. In an emergency or critical times, multimodal alerts are mandatory to ensure you are getting the message out.
Emergency notification systems are very powerful tools that help you potentially save lives by sending crisis communications. Be very discerning when exploring non-emergency use cases and consider how they will affect the overall effectiveness of your critical communications. While, non-critical alerts can be valid, be sure they are in balance with critical alerts and properly targeted to people that value them.
To help you get a better understanding of which emergency alerts to include in your emergency notification system, download the Insight Top Five Emergency Message Templates.