According to Today's Facility Manager, mass notification systems can help facility managers reach everyone in their facility in the event of an emergency.

The systems employ software programs that are able to correspond through e-mail, phone calls, instant messaging, digital signage, public address, two-way radio, and any other possible electronic means. Specific emergencies, such as tornadoes, floods or attacks, can be preprogrammed into the system, so an alert can be sent if such an event is expected.

When the system is installed, facility inhabitants are registered into its database. Each individual can have several contact meth-ods, such as e-mail, instant message and phone, and can specify in which order the alerts should be delivered. Contact data loaded into a mass notification system can be categorized, so personalized messages can be delivered to groups in various parts of the fa-cility. Mass notification systems can also be connected to digital signs.

Because facility phone systems are not always able to handle an influx of calls, facility managers should ensure that there are phone lines reserved for mass notification and that the building’s phone switch can manage all of them. If there is any doubt about the network’s capacity, an application service provider may be employed. This will allow facility personnel to access the whole mass notification system, which will be placed at the vendor’s information headquarters, using the Internet.

To make sure that mass notification e-mails are not blocked by high amounts of traffic on a facility’s network, the network can be configured to first send e-mails from the mass notification system. If the facility cannot handle the load, the facility manager can shift the system’s operations to the vendor’s site. Many facilities are starting to incorporate others into their mass notification sys-tems to ensure a quicker response. For example, many big campuses register their community police and fire department contacts.