Last week, I wrote about how important it is to have a plan for emergency events. More lives are saved when a plan is in place and everyone knows what to do, rather than simply reacting to the situation.
The Council of Educational Facilities Planners International have released Safe Schools: A Best Practices Guide, for that very reason. The guide, available in PDF form for free online, emphasizes the need for communication in a crises. In fact, page 7 of the guide is titled Crisis Communications.
The guide lists recommended devices, including PA, cameras, multiple communication devices, broadcast messaging, and a plan, all of which MessageNet Connections can provide. We go a step further, however, and use the emergency system for everyday communications as well, to ensure that users won’t forget how to use the system before an emergency happened.
While everyone hopes that emergency situations don’t arise, it’s important to not let one take you by surprise. According to Campus Security Magazine, your emergency alert system is ‘only as good as your plan’.
Having a plan in place for any possible emergency situations is important and can save lives. However, Campus Security also believes in testing your emergency communication system regularly. Though they see this practice as a requirement to ensure your system works properly if and when an emergency arises, it can involve considerable time and expense for your organization. Eliminating this cost is why MessageNet Connections isn’t designed to be just an emergency system. It’s also designed for every day communication; when used daily, users won’t forget how to use it in between emergencies and so that it’s effectively tested every day via constant use.
The article also discusses many different systems without talking about how they might work together. MessageNet Connections can integrate with many different types of systems, so it’s easier to unify communications and emergency alerts, rather than having many different emergency systems for different scenarios.
One integrated system that is used every day can save lives more easily and be cost-effective and more efficient at the same time.
All technology eventually fails. Cars, phones, tablets, computers, even MessageNet servers.
MessageNet Connections, which is often heavily relied upon for both everyday and emergency communications, is software and web browser-based. However, the hardware that supports it unfortunately cannot last forever. Many customers that have been with MessageNet for many years and have much older servers find that their hardware begins to fail; and the way they’ve got their system set up means that until they can purchase a new server, they’re completely without MessageNet services. In addition, if the server failure stems from the hard-drive, data may not be recoverable and the customer would have to start from scratch.
It’s important to have the right setup to protect data. MessageNet usually recommends having a redundant server setup so that if one server fails, there’s a second one to act as back-up. However, this isn’t always possible, so instead keeping a saved copy of the MessageNet hard-drive can prevent data loss and decrease down-time if a new server is needed.
In light of the recent shootings at the Navy Base in Washington, D.C., it’s important to think about what our responses should be in an emergency. In situations with an active shooter, locking the door is one of the quickest things to do for people to protect themselves, but it’s often not enough. A locked door isn’t difficult for a determined shooter to shoot or break through. A barricaded door can protect better against bullets and can more effectively prevent an intruder from entering a room or breaking through a door.
However, barricades take time to create and a messaging system that can get instructions to the correct people in seconds rather than minutes can save many lives. A network-centric emergency communication system such as MessageNet Connections would be able to get a message out more quickly, which is vital in a situation where every second counts.
Emergency communication systems also needs to be location-aware and to be able to send different messages to different locations. In the event of an armed intruder, a message sent to cell phones wouldn’t be able to provide accurate instructions for everyone, because the same message would be sent out to everyone regardless of location. A system that can send messages out based on location, even including building and room number, could provide instructions to non-affected buildings requesting evacuation, while providing instructions to those in the same building as the shooter to barricade the doors. This would also save more lives, because an action that would save people in one location could endanger people in another unless everyone has the appropriate directions for their location and its circumstances.