The security field is always looking for ways to improve communication, especially in terms of mass notification systems (MNS). The Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) defines mass notification as “the capability to provide real-time information to all building occupants or personnel in the immediate vicinity of a building during emergency situations. To reduce the risk of mass casualties, there must be a timely means to notify building occupants of threats and what should be done in response to those threats. Pre-recorded and live-voice emergency messages are required by this UFC to provide this capability.”
This article from Campus Safety Magazine seeks to better explain this technology, its applications and advancements.
The UFC recommends the integration of fire alarm systems and emergency communications systems (ECS) in MNS in order to obtain the best results and reach the largest number of occupants. Because of its effectiveness, MNS has quickly gained popularity with nonmilitary organizations (this technology originated for use in military facilities), especially with recent events like the Virginia Tech shootings and severe weather incidents (hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, tsunamis, etc.).
It is easy to see how an effective mass notification system could potentially save lives.
Yet, while these systems are affective, the sequence of notifications becomes the main issue with MNS. You cannot have a fire alarm sound and then send a message informing occupants to stay indoors. These messages must be synchronized to avoid confusion. The 2010 edition of NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm & Signaling Code, Chapter 24, outlines the requirements for the design and installation of ECS within commercial facilities, requiring a building’s fire alarm and ECS to be integrated and programmed to allow all ECS functions to supersede the fire alarm. This priority setting helps to avoid confusing situations.
Furthermore, utilizing a combination of audible and visual notification devices, such as strobes, voice communications, and programmable LED signage is thought to be the most affective solution for capturing the attention of occupants. To avoid confusion and to maximize effectiveness, the sequence of notifications should be integrated into a facility’s emergency plan.
But what about large-scale situations spanning multiple campuses, cities or even states?
The answer: IP (VoIP) technology. With the help of IP, MNS can deliver a live voice message anywhere in the world via the Internet.
With innovations like these, it is now wonder that MNS continues to be utilized in more and more facilities and multi-building properties, including K-12 schools, high-rise buildings, mass transit hubs and even public gathering places such as theatres, restaurants and places of worship.
For any questions on Mass Notification Systems, simply contact ARK Systems at 1-800-995-0189 or click here today.