The second component of situational awareness – having real-time information about your organization’s operational status – involves the production and delivery of alerts.
While an alarm may signal an emergency via a siren and/or strobe light, it lacks specificity – there’s no information about where the emergency is unfolding or where the nearest exists are located so the safest escape route can be determined.
Alarms from life safety, security or environmental controls also lack redundancy and scalability, limiting alerting to a single communication device or channel, such as email.
But situational awareness technology provides managed alerting so real-time information about a triggering event goes directly to key individuals, select groups or entire populations based on an organization’s predefined alerting and response protocols. These alerts are delivered automatically to numerous communication end points – from smartphones to computer screens and from public address systems to CCTVs or virtually any communication device that’s designated.
Such mass notification reduces the chance of information about a triggering event falling through the cracks. If any single alerting method should fail, the alternate communication channels provide redundancy so critical information is sure to be disseminated.
So an alarm is just inadequate because specificity matters. That’s why quite simply alarms are bad, but alerts are good.
By integrating disparate alarm systems, detailed alerts about an unfolding situation can be delivered to both on and offsite responders. These alerts will contain the nature of the alarm plus location data (e.g., wing, floor, room number) – critical details that can improve response in terms of both the right action and the right timing.