You can't control the weather, but you can control how you prepare for and respond to weather emergencies or other triggering events that require real-time, detailed and ongoing communication to protect people, property, business and convenience. That's why mass notification is critical to emergency preparedness/response and disaster recovery, as well as general business operations. Mass notification is an application of situational awareness that ensures pertinent information about a triggering event - an awareness transaction - is delivered automatically in as many ways as possible to those most likely to be affected, as well as both on- and off-site responders. You can set up specific alert groups, giving you the ability to broadcast information to all constituents or only to certain personnel - maintenance vs. housekeeping, for example. Mass notification also includes the ability to send alerts on demand if unplanned events or changes occur, in addition to updates as an unfolding situation changes.
It's also possible - and important - to set up alerts to differentiate between different types of emergencies. For example, one can signal a fire, which means people need to evacuate immediately, while another can indicate a tornado, which means people need to shelter in place. Both alerts can be set up not just to activate sirens and strobe lights automatically but also send out instructions to the appropriate groups via multiple communication channels. This sort of event-triggered mass notification provides redundancy, which is critical to life safety. After the danger passes, your predefined groups can be notified again with all-clear messages. Mass notifications also can be campaign-triggered, meaning tailored to a specific group. For example, if a university student's meal plan is about to expire, a phone call, text and/or email can be set up to notify said student so arrangements can be made for renewal. SARA's modes and actions are situation agnostic, so the solution can be used to drive awareness transactions regarding any situation deemed important to your organization - from matters of life safety to matters of revenue.
The telephone is still relevant and an effective means of communicating information, especially for organizations that need to contact a large number of constituents. SARA has mass-dialing capabilities to landlines and mobile phones, including emergency alerts. The mass notification service model provides an organization with the ability to make large volumes of both emergency and non-emergency calls. For example, a school, government complex or other type of wide-area campus can announce inclement weather warnings, school closings, bus delays, schedule changes, etc. While other organizations may choose to only use the service for emergencies or an extreme deviation in operations, such as a fire, flood or other type of evacuation, inclement weather warnings, intruder alerts, etc. Mass dialing through SARA ensures real-time alerting and redundancy, both crucial in life safety and security situations as well as for other types of business-critical announcements.
You have to define the "mass" in mass notification, the appropriate layers of redundancy, and the forms of alerting. Once the protocols and escalation paths have been established, alerting is automatic. Following are some examples of the communication devices used with SARA for mass notification: