A college emergency notification system provides broad-based notifications to on-campus communities in a crisis or emergency. Undoubtedly, it’s essential to ensure emergency alerts reach faculty, stuff, and students in real-time to help keep colleges safe. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions of higher learning have faced several crisis moments. How they have responded has certainly made a difference in their efforts to keep the campuses safer.
Mass notifications have been in use for a long time to provide information in time-critical situations. Furthermore, the installation of a college emergency notification system has been a priority for many providers. Unfortunately, these systems have been overlooked in a myriad of educational settings. Sadly, statistics show 55% of students wouldn’t know how to respond in an emergency within the school. Astonishingly, more than 37,000 criminal offences happen in campuses annually. Besides, there are more emergencies than just criminal activities and fire outbreaks.
An effective college emergency notification system can go a long way to lessen the damage from such incidents. The tools used in the systems can be as simple as external sirens. Alternatively, they can be complex in a way that they combine email notifications, voice messages, paging, text message, network pop-ups and fire alarms with voice enunciation. Since technologies are always changing, colleges must evaluate what works best for them.
With this mind, here are some suggestions for technologies your college should be using to send an emergency message.
Call Boxes with Panic Buttons
An emergency call box is a device placed in high traffic areas as an additional security measure. The boxes serve to reassure people that help is just a button away if they find themselves in an emergency. Call boxes are easily visible from a distance away. And they give the dispatch center the exact location of the person or people who need help for faster response.
If colleges install call boxes, they may be able to retrofit them with cameras, strobes, and speakers for outgoing messages. On the other hand, in-coming messages from the field can keep security personnel well informed about the developments. One model of call boxes provides an option for users to incorporate an on-board electronic defibrillator for treating heart attacks. The cameras in the call boxes come in handy to identify offenders who may misuse them by creating false alarms.
Sirens are widespread and they provide a quick alarm. When they sound, everyone immediately knows there is danger somewhere near them. A siren is designed to sound for an average of three minutes and then automatically turn off. This setting helps to preserve its batteries. If it sounds again, it means there is more danger. sirens are never sounded as an “all clear” signal.
Unfortunately, sirens don’t notify people what the actual danger is, and sometimes this causes them to take longer to respond. Experts recommend using sirens as a backup warning method to other methods that inform people of the imminent threat facing them.
In this digital age, colleges have all the reason to incorporate digital signage into their college emergency notification system. While no one wants to see an extreme weather warning or notifications about an active shooter, such alerts can save thousands of lives. Fortunately, most colleges have some kind of digital signage for college communications in place. For example, they have signs in front of buildings or TVs mounted in lobbies or conference rooms.
Granted, they can maximize these devices and use them to keep students, employees, and visitors within the college premises safe and informed. While creating awareness inside buildings is crucial, tying into outside digital signage can also prevent people from walking into a dangerous situation.
With this in mind colleges should consider how they can get the most out of digital signage when using it for emergency notifications. One way to achieve this is to ensure they customize it for different events. In other words, there’s need to think about:
- The various crisis situations the college might encounter
- What needs to happen in each specific emergency case
- The type of messages to share or the content of the notification in the event of active shooting, severe weather, or evacuation?
- How to deliver the message in a timely manner
Each message delivered should have instructions on what the recipients can do to keep safe. Think about the color codes that will be most effective in grabbing people’s attention, including visuals to provide clear instruction.
However, digital signage should only be one part of the communication plan. The idea is to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, in as many ways as possible.
When emergencies happen on a school campus, it’s crucial to have an effective emergency notification system to notify every one of the danger. This goes a long way in mitigating the risk of injury and enhancing the safety of students. An effective system must have the appropriate mechanisms to help the community members make informed decisions about protecting themselves. It’s also a combination of various communication channels like sirens, public address system, digital signage, and geo-polls like the Rave Alert system.