The MessageNet Blog

Get The Message Out!

The Benefits of Barricading

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.

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The Trouble with Weather Alerts

We’re often asked if we can automate weather alerts from the National Weather Service. While this is possible with MessageNet Connections, it’s not recommended. Weather alerts are often broadcast to a very large area and aren’t always relevant to specific buildings or locations. Automating weather alert messages also precludes any customization from the message, so all incoming weather alerts are treated the exact same way, regardless of severity of the alert and thus can be inconvenient to message recipients when the alert isn’t an emergency. Weather alerts are better sent automatically to one or two users, who can then determine whether the alert should be broadcast to a larger audience.
The same considerations also pertain to other types of automated alerts that come from an external source, such as emergency tests and Amber alerts. Any emergency information origination from outside the organization may have a different agenda and a larger constituency, resulting in the need to edit the information or recipients to make the content relevant to your organization.

Below is an example of the misplaced intrusion of an automated weather alert.

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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):

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
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