Mass Notification Simplified: Automated 2-Way Discreet Messaging
One of the biggest problems in dangerous scenarios, such as active shooters, natural disasters and medical emergencies, is communication. How do you get word to the other side of a building or campus to let others know of the danger, so everyone has time to escape or find shelter or a hiding place? Until now, primary options for communicating dangerous events – other than running down the hall in person – were phones (voice or text), email, two-way radio and panic buttons, each activated separately, by different people. The time lag, exposure to human error and incomplete coverage could be, to put it delicately, deadly.
Now, thanks to a new ability to easily combine technologies and automate plain-language mass messages, the risks of dangerous events have been decreased. Lynx’s Duress and Emergency Notification System is saving lives and it leverages your existing infrastructure reducing the costs.
Weaponizing” Technology to Save Lives
“Seconds count in dangerous situations,” said Shannon Neubauer of Prime Communications, Inc. (PCI). “The faster we can get mass notifications out, the faster everyone can decide what their actions will be. This system turns over control and power to the staff instead of the perpetrator.” It is, in effect, a non-violent method of self-defense.
This solution offers a comprehensive, automated two-way mass notification system that allows any person in a network to send notifications to everyone throughout a building or campus at the same time. The Lynx Duress and Emergency Notification System can connect a wide array of inputs and outputs, giving staff or stakeholders in many different settings the power to not only receive notifications but send them. No matter where a threat is located or who learns of it first, it’s possible to let every other person in the network know what’s going on in seconds.
One of the most exciting features of the system is a series of as many as 20 icons that can appear on each sender and receiver’s computer screen — the most common method of notification used with the system. With the simple click of one of the icons or use of a keyboard macro (even if the user isn’t logged in) an office worker can notify an entire building of a specific danger without a perpetrator becoming aware of the alert. Pre-programmed icons and messages will appear on other computers instantly to help staff protect themselves. In some situations, a message can be typed into the notification with details about the emergency.
“A receptionist, for example, might trigger an Intruder alert and then type in a description of the person and what they are wearing,” Neubauer explained. “A school principal might send a Tornado Warning alert that includes pre-programmed instructions, and then type in the expected duration of the warning.”
To aid building-wide communication, the system’s messaging can be programmed to align with many different input and output devices, such as pagers, smart phones and tablets, RSS feeds, HDMI monitors, LED displays, strobes, wall-mounted panic buttons and PA systems, converting text to audio or visual cues as needed. (See diagram.)
Visual messages can be color-coded to overcome language barrier and for the hearing impaired. This would be valuable, for example, in a large factory where hundreds of employees don’t speak the local language.
Incorporating Mass Notification into Emergency Operation Plans
No matter the setting – school, factory, office building, shopping mall, retail store or hospital – anywhere large groups of people gather, management should draft and implement an official emergency operation plan. The mass notification system is easily incorporated into any plan, because it is easy to learn, understand and operate by end users. Traditional systems tend to be more complex, less comprehensive and less reliable.
In onboarding orientations and regular safety meetings, all staff or stakeholders can be taught quickly and easily how to initiate notifications, when to initiate notifications, what the notifications mean and where to look for incoming messages, as well as what to do when a notification arrives. Because the system is so easy to use, it gives everyone confidence they can stay safe – and that tends to help people think more clearly during an event. The installation of a mass notification system can even be a positive factor for parents deciding which school to send their kids to, or employees deciding where they would rather work.
Before installing the system, an enterprise should work closely with its safety committee and leaders to decide how best to incorporate the many potential notifications and achieve best possible outcomes during emergency events. The system is completely customizable to fit any emergency. Locations, floorplans, available staff, existing equipment, software and other factors will indicate what is needed. A professional integrator like PCI can help plan, organize and implement the system effectively.
Once decisions have been made, procedures incorporating the mass notification system should be written into the emergency plan and training sessions held to bring everyone up to speed.
Integration with Existing Security and IT Systems
The beauty of the Lynx mass notification system is that it turns every computer in an organization’s network into a mass notification display – with minimal hardware deployment. The Lynx software is designed to produce selected messages or actions across an entire network of other devices. Neubauer said, “The average enterprise already has what they need.”
Some organizations choose to tie in the physical LynxGuide Server with existing internal systems, such as the Genetec security system. Events already included in the Genetec system can trigger Lynx system notifications, both inputs and outputs. The Genetec system makes it possible to put notifications on a map, so leaders can see who initiated the message. The notification system can work hand-in-hand with other security system features, such as visual and audio attention grabbers, microphones, noise detection and more.
According to Jamie Bumgardner COO for Prime Communications, a mass notification system like this was not feasible with traditional security systems because the cost of deployment was too high. “This is a unique system that breaks the mold of traditional technology for physical security,” he said. “It allows organizations to report incidents with an ease not seen before in the industry.”
A PCI client recently asked to investigate deployment of an array of speakers for mass notification in a more than one million square foot distribution facility. The cost of the system would have been four times as much as the cost of deploying the Lynx mass notification system – for only one form of communication (audio speakers). For 25% less, the Lynx system PCI installed provides numerous forms of communication to make distribution center employees aware of emergency events.
Worth the Time and Money to Keep People Safe
In these unsettling times, it’s reassuring to know we can take back some control from active shooters, acts of nature and the ravages of bad luck. In recent years, even with the acceleration of mass shootings and other violent events, many organizations have had no way to respond to emergencies cohesively, or as desperately as we have wished we could.
“We live in an era when we don’t have to feel so much at the mercy of human aggressors and disasters anymore,” Bumgardner said. “It’s hard to say no to such a low-cost solution with such a powerful mechanism to save lives during critical events.”
In fact, PCI would like to do whatever we can to help organizations gain the peace of mind that comes with confident, complete, easy-to-use mass notification like the Lynx system. If you are interested in seeing for yourself how easy it is to set up and send the alerts, call us at 402-289-426 and request a one-on-one demo – we’ll send a sample real-time emergency alert to your own computer.