Mass notification solutions have evolved from simple air raid sirens to a complex set of integrated subsystems that include a variety of emergency warning technologies including voice over warning systems, computer pop-ups, and cell phone text alerts. Though they have been around for a number of years, mass notification systems have become a key component in the modern security and safety plans of many education, corporate campuses and critical infrastructure facilities. Most people in the industry credit headline grabbing events, such as the Columbine and Virginia Tech massacres with raising awareness and creating a need for the technology. In the 1980s, voice evacuation technology was added to fire alarm systems and the technology has continued to develop to the point where today’s university or corporate security chief can choose a myriad of solutions, such as digital signage, cell phone text alerts, computer pop-ups, intercom and outdoor speakers to create a comprehensive system. Mass Notification Systems (a.k.a. Emergency Communication Systems) provide real-time information to all building occupants, personnel in the immediate vicinity of a building or open areas during emergency situations. In a government building or public facility, mass notification systems strengthen the existing security system by communicating to and receiving information from people inside, many of whom are visitors.
“At Your Side” solutions reaches large numbers of people quickly through their common-voice and text-based personal communication devices. It can be used together with premise-based notification or as a standalone, on-demand alerting and response system that allows the user to send near instantaneous notifications to a high volume of recipients simultaneously. These messages can be sent anywhere in the world and work with devices such as: phones, PDAs, pagers, e-mail accounts, etc. Messages can be tailored according to location, function or any other user-defined criteria and can provide confirmation of delivery.
Indoor solutions use existing LAN infrastructure (wired and wireless), as well as existing voice systems (such as fire-alarm voice evacuation systems), other emergency voice-evacuation systems or voice-paging systems. Inside buildings, mass notification increases the capacity to establish contact. People in every area of the facility or campus are near a potential point of contact in times of emergency. Electronic signage, desktop PCs, telephones and paging systems communicate emergency messages, allowing organizations to disseminate critical information to thousands of personnel – regardless of location – within seconds.
Outside spaces pose unique communication challenges, as the system must provide audible coverage for even the largest business or university campus environments. In outdoor applications, high-powered speaker arrays can be an indispensable tool for warning groups of people. These innovative arrays are capable of producing high-intensity warning signals and carrying voice messages over miles. High-powered speaker arrays are available in a variety of sizes and are useful in such areas as parking garages or lots, stadiums, and other open spaces such as quads and town-centers.