The MessageNet Blog

Get The Message Out!

MessageNet PA capabilities

Most people think of PA as being a simple audio tool. Pick up a phone and speak and your voice will be transmitted to speakers all over the building. While MessageNet does have the capability to transmit to any combination of speakers, our PA system has a lot more to offer.

  • Reply to a PA message via the two-way intercom feature.
  • Record and store thousands of recorded  message for later play.  Most systems limit you to a handful of recorded messages.
  • Schedule recorded messages to automatically play once or repeatedly.
  • Speak live and automatically record what was said for future use and for documentation.
  • Have a typed message spoken aloud through text-to-speech software that supports multiple languages.
  • Flash high-intensity lights to get attention.
  • Have a text message scroll across the PA device.

These additional capabilities make for a far more versatile and useful system that can meet the needs of many different situations. As an audio and visual PA system, it can be used in environments with deaf and blind people and is also ideal for emergencies, as people can be rendered deaf or blind in an instant by an explosion or other type of disaster.

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Cameras in classrooms

Cameras in classrooms are a valuable tool for a variety of reasons. They can be used for video conferences or for classroom-based morning announcements. They can even be used for classroom observation, which can be a useful resource for teachers to initiate a video recording of incidences in the classroom or to identify and document bullying.

Cameras can also be vital for emergency situations. Not only can they record an event to be analyzed after the fact, but they can also pop and display live video feeds from the point of interest to staff PCs and digital signage.  Additionally these cameras can deliver live video feed to police, fire fighters, or other emergency responders. Having advanced knowledge of a situation can mean saving more lives.

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Record Live PA

MessageNet already offers one of the most versatile and comprehensive PA systems on the market. We’ve recently added the ability to automatically record any announcement that is spoken live over a PA. This is useful because that same message can be replayed later if its intended recipient didn’t hear all of it, or if it needs to be repeated later East Inflatable Rentals. This allows for more complicated spoken announcements, because users no longer have to worry that the message will be lost or not remembered if it’s too long, since it can always be replayed. This also provides an audit trail, so if there’s been a problem with unauthorized use of the PA, exactly what was said and who said it can easily be found out.

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Save a PowerPoint as a Video

MessageNet Connections users with Microsoft PowerPoint (version 2012 or later) now have the option to save a PowerPoint presentation as a video file. This makes displaying a presentation on a MessageNet MediaPort a lot simpler. PowerPoint presentations have often had many specific settings that need to be correct in order to properly display (as explained in this earlier blog post: Make Power Point Presentations Compatible), so a video, which only needs to be saved in widescreen format, is a lot easier to successfully create and display. Another advantage of the video format is that all transitions and animations are compatible and display on MediaPorts, unlike the .ppt format, which is more restrictive.

To save a presentation as a video, follow these steps:
  1. Click on the ‘file’ tab and select ‘save & send’
  2. Under the ‘file types’ heading, select ‘save as video’
  3. If you haven’t already set up transition timings, it will ask you to do so next
  4. Save the file (it may take a few minutes for the file to be converted, depending on the speed of your computer)
  5. Finally, upload it to a MessageNet Connections media message and enjoy a nicer presentation that was easier to create
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Message Prioritization

Because MessageNet Connections can be used for both everyday and emergency communications, protocols for message prioritization need to be set up. Too often, users, not wanting their messages to be interrupted by others’, set theirs with higher priority levels, potentially blocking any other messages (even emergency messages) from being displayed or spoken. I recommend that an organization should establish priority standards for each type of message ahead of time so users know what priority to give their messages inflatable water slides.

The default priority for normal messages is 200. Other every day priority levels can be set around this base. While emergency messages should have higher priority levels, emergencies are not necessarily equal. This is where it’s vital to set priority standards before emergencies happen, so a message about a fire threatening the entire building isn’t blocked by a message about a water leak in the basement that may only damage equipment. Having different classifications for emergency messages can help make choosing a priority level easier. Also, within Connections’ User Database Manager, it is possible to restrict certain users from sending messages with higher than a certain priority, so only emergency personnel can send messages with emergency-level priority, making it easier to control how the priority levels of messages are set up.

I highly recommend these steps be taken to ensure that emergency communications are reliably delivered and are not lost in the crowd of common daily communications.

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Security in Schools

In an emergency, like the mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, seconds matter enormously. An event of that nature is impossible to predict, and thus impossible to completely prevent, but if improving the speed and effectiveness of emergency communications can save at least one life, then it’s vital to do so. An emergency management and notification system needs to be able to provide specific, relevant instructions to different groups of people, give different sets of information to students, teachers, and parents, and to quickly notify and inform the police or other emergency responders.

Security features that can warn of an impending emergency are also vital. Features such as glass-break detectors, wireless panic buttons, fire panel integration, audio/visual PA, cameras, and location-aware way-finding can prevent bullying, save lives, and overall make schools a safer place without the hassle, expense, limitations or risk of armed security guards. While a security guard could provide some level of protection, it’s very expensive to employ even one inflatable water slides for sale. Also, a security guard cannot be in more than one room at a time, while cameras can be in every room and can project a live feed to first emergency responders and police, providing situational awareness so they can be prepared for the situation.

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“Tech Accessibility Makes Strides for Deaf, Blind Students” article features MessageNet Systems

MessageNet Systems was recently featured in an article by the Center for Digital Education.

To read how MessageNet is providing full and equal access to information at the Mississippi School for the Deaf, click here or visit the following link (will open in a new window):

http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/Tech-Accessibility-Deaf-Blind-Students.html

We also have a related, quick and insightful video which features how MessageNet is used at Mississippi School for the Deaf:

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The Importance of PC Alert

PC Alert can be used for everyday communication, but it’s used best for emergency situations. Because it can pop through other windows and even through password-free screen savers, PC Alert is ideal for making sure the message can be seen. And because PC Alert can be disabled only by a system administrator, you can trust that any emergency (or everyday) message will reach its intended recipient. To see an informative short video or more information on PC Alert, visit http://www.messagenetcommunicationsystems.com/computer-pop-ups-instant-messaging-pc-alert-for-mac-and-pc/
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Effectively Using PC Alert

While PC Alert is easy to use, convenient for messaging and necessary in emergencies, it can get overwhelming for employees if not used in a strategic way. There are good reasons why PC Alert can’t be disabled and will always pop over other windows

on a computer, but it can be distracting for employees when they find their work being interrupted, unnecessarily. Thus, it’s important to consider limiting the messages that come through over PC Alert to only the most important messages and their targeted audience. Like the boy who cried wolf, if people are constantly receiving messages unnecessarily through PC Alert, it can diminish the importance and impact of an actual emergency message.

While PC Alert is easy to use, convenient for messaging and necessary in emergencies, it can get overwhelming for employees if not used in a strategic way. There are good reasons why PC Alert can’t be disabled and will always pop over other windows on a computer, but it can be distracting for employees when they find their work being interrupted, unnecessarily. Thus, it’s important to consider limiting the messages that come through over PC Alert to only the most important messages and their targeted audience. Like the boy who cried wolf, if people are constantly receiving messages unnecessarily through PC Alert, it can diminish the importance and impact of an actual emergency message.
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Security at the London 2012 Olympics

For the 2012 Olympics, London, which already had a large number of security cameras, did everything from install surface-to-air missiles to surveillance systems for infectious diseases. One of the most important innovations for the Olympic Games, however, is probably the introduction of the Apollo network. For the first time in Olympic history, Private Mobile Services Radio provider is a sponsorship category. Airwave, the company that built the Airwave Network, in use by London emergency services since the emergency communications debacle of the 2005 bombings of the London Underground, is the official sponsor in that category. For the London Olympic Games, Airwave built a completely new communications network, called the Apollo Network, that was separate from the existing emergency services Airwave network. This network ensures communication across London with no interference from other radio systems. Airwave also improved the existing emergency services radio network, increasing its capacity, especially in the areas where security would be of bigger concern.

Radio communication was first proposed in London after the mobile phone network, which had been the primary emergency communications system, was overloaded during the aftermath of the bombing of the London Underground. Since then, the Airwave radio network, implemented in 2006 as the Connect Project, has proven to be exceptional, especially underground, and secure and efficient. The Airwave network was tested by a real emergency situation in during the 2011 riots. This made the network ideal for the increased security measures taken for the Olympic Games, although a separate network was required in order to retain the same levels of efficiency and resilience.

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