What do you do when you need to deliver time-sensitive information to hundreds, or even thousands of people? Do you have a mass notification system in place to help get the word out quickly and efficiently? There are times when alerts sent to the general population of a hospital, school or business are not only helpful, but necessary. In a hospital setting, implementing a mass notification system extends beyond emergencies – doctors, nurses and administrative staff can also be alerted of shift changes or increased availability. This can be accomplished with little to no effort when a mass notification system is in place. With the systems that are available today, the same message can be broadcast to literally thousands of people. For those messages that need to be dispersed quickly, mass communication sent to personal devices is becoming very popular. Within minutes, an important alert can be sent in a timely fashion to everyone who is affected by the content of the message.
Mass Communication Alerts
Historically, the reason for a mass communication has been emergency related. Mass communication alerts have typically been sent for extreme weather bulletins or when there is a dangerous situation taking place at a specific location, such as a particular building on a campus or business site. While mass notification systems incorporate a variety of response mechanisms to allow educational institutions to improve their communications in the event of an emergency, the systems can also be used to improve the business process of hospitals as well as major corporations.
Now that alerts have become broader in scope, it is becoming more common to see alerts about:
- Event Notification: to alert of upcoming, canceled, or even impromptu events
- Attendance alerts: in an educational setting, this can alert parents and guardians when a student is tardy or absent.
- News Updates: about a particular item that affects the group.
- Building Closure: for maintenance reasons or an outage of electricity.
- Ad-hoc meetings: when it is necessary to gather a group of individuals
There are multiple methods of communicating messages, from text messages and e-mail alerts to delivering a voice message. Read on to determine the differences and assess for yourself which would be most successful within your organization.
How are messages delivered?
Most systems offer features which allow you to call recipients and leave a pre-recorded message. Seems simple, but on one hand, when a call is received from an unknown phone number, it is often ignored or sent to voice mail. Thus, defeating the whole purpose of the mass notification, as the event may have already taken place once the recipient retrieves the voice mail. In response to this, some systems have taken steps to alleviate this problem and skip calls altogether and send a text message. This approach could prove more successful, since research shows that when a text is received, it is often checked sooner than a voice mail even from a known caller. It is quicker to check when the phone signal is weak and the receiver can still get the full text message. The New York Times references data from uReach Technologies, who operates the voice messaging systems of a leading wireless provider. The data states that over30 percent of voice messages go unheard for a minimum of three days. But what about wireless subscribers who do not use or even have the ability to send or receive text messages?
This is where multi-modal systems come in and prove to be most effective. Leading manufacturers now offer multi-modal systems, which allow you to use multiple delivery methods to communicate your message. Whether you want to send a voice call, e-mail or text, these multi-modal systems can handle it all. Some systems have the ability to know when a voicemail system answers and can leave a message but also continue to contact other devices simultaneously, avoiding any downtime in getting the word out. Are you the information officer for a large school district and wondering how you will know if students, faculty and parents received your message? Or maybe you work in a hospital setting and you’re experience a staff shortage so you need to alert team members who are not currently in the hospital. How will you know if they’ve received word that they’re needed? Problem solved – when you select a mass notification system that offers full reporting capabilities so you can always keep track of who received your message.
Deploying: Premise-based vs. hosted
If cost is your major concern, then a premise-based system will prove to be more cost-effective than hosted with delivering mass notification alerts. Emergency notification lends itself to utilizing larger numbers of lines and shared equipment to get critical information out to big groups as rapidly as possible, and in those cases hosted solutions may be ideal. For ongoing, less time-sensitive communications however, a small investment in technology can lead to large returns in stakeholder experience and loyalty. By using trunks and lines that are already paid for, in most cases there will be no additional operational expenditure to send these messages. Regardless of your preferred method, it is necessary to take the steps to implement a mass communications system, as early warning is critical since most people in these environments cannot be mobilized easily.