Emergency Notification System

There are few things more important than communication—and few situations when that holds truer than during a crisis. 

Effective communication can be the difference between success and failure when mitigating a disruptive incident. In extreme cases, it can even save lives. Mass notification systems play a pivotal role, allowing organizations to disseminate information about critical events rapidly. 

More importantly, organizations can do this seamlessly and securely, keeping people, personnel, partners, and—in some instances—the public apprised of developing scenarios. Although they’re typically only able to send one-way text alerts, more advanced mass notification systems may feature two-way communication, rich media, and geo-tagging. Ultimately, however, these tools all serve the same purpose.

They ensure that, in the worst-case scenario, lines of contact remain active. 

What Is a Mass Notification System?

Also known as emergency communication systems, mass notification systems are focused primarily on situational awareness. Capable of sending messages across multiple channels simultaneously, they’re designed to maximize outreach during critical events. Typically, mass notification systems are intended to remain operational even when other communication channels are out of commission. 

A mass notification system may be used in a few different ways: 

  • Alerting employees and contractors of a severe weather event or active threat
  • Notifying partners and stakeholders impacted by a data breach or other cyber incident
  • Providing situational awareness to staff traveling through at-risk areas
  • Sending live updates about service interruptions or outages

Alerting aside, core features of a mass notification system may include geo-tagging, two-way communication, integration with organizational infrastructure, targeted and templated alerts, and response tracking. 

Mass Notification Systems vs Critical Event Management Platforms

Critical event management platforms, as the name suggests, consolidate multiple features and modalities to provide an organization with everything it needs to manage, mitigate, and resolve disruptive events effectively. Typically, mass notifications represent only a single, albeit essential, feature of a CEM tool. CEM functionality unrelated to mass notification systems may include risk management, automated incident management and remediation, incident planning, and emergency response tools. 

Benefits of Mass Notification Systems

No plan can survive without effective outreach, which is precisely where a mass notification system comes in. Deploying an effective emergency alerting platform, therefore, benefits your organization in many ways: 

  • Visibility into the safety of employees
  • Visibility into alerts and users at partnered organizations 
  • Centralized management to connect users, content, and policies
  • Automated scenarios, response tracking, and reporting
  • Unification and integration with systems such as those leveraged by emergency services
  • Providing staff and stakeholders with a means of keeping in touch during emergencies

How to Choose a Mass Notification System

Typically, your best option is to deploy a mass notification system as part of a comprehensive CEM solution. However, if emergency alerting is the only functionality you require, you should consider a few things when selecting a vendor.  

What is Your Specific Use Case?

Do you need mass notifications solely to provide updates on service outages and disruptions, or do you need a tool to help keep your people safe from hazardous events? What specific regulatory and legislative requirements does your industry have around the transmission and storage of emergency alerts? Is your userbase primarily domestic, or do you have many international employees? 

Your first step should be to list all the incidents your organization is likely to face in order of severity—everything from minor outages to life-threatening weather events. 

Who Will Use the Solution?

This includes those who will receive the alerts and those who will manage them. Pay particular attention to your existing infrastructure and the systems and devices that are common amongst your users. Consider also whether there are any non-negotiable integrations. 

An Intuitive Interface is a Must

If a solution is cumbersome or unintuitive, people will waste valuable time during an emergency wrestling to make it work properly. No matter who your user base will be, the solution must be easy to use. Simplicity is non-negotiable. 

What Information Do You Need to Share?

Will simple text alerts be sufficient, or do you need geo-tagging and rich media? What about two-way alerting and read receipts? 

What is Your Budget?

How much are you willing to allocate to a mass notification system? Be sure to weigh this against the cost of a disruptive event should you be unable to mitigate it properly. 

Emergencies and business disruptions happen. It’s how you prepare and respond to them that determines their impact.

Our critical event management solutions combine a secure emergency notification system with incident response tools and capabilities—so you can quickly deploy your response teams and enable them to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from critical events faster.

Critical Event and Emergency Planning Resources

Structural Dependency
Tips to Make Your Enterprise Resilient with Critical Event Management
View the Infographic
Structural Dependency
Nine Tips to Prepare for Every Critical Event
Read The Blog
Structural Dependency
Critical Event Management Guide to Emergency Planning
Download the Guide
Structural Dependency
Checklist for Critical Event and Emergency Management Planning
Get The Checklist