What to look for in an emergency notification system
by Neil Conchie, on Nov 10, 2020 3:20:19 PM
So you’ve decided that you need an emergency notification system for your business, but how do you choose which one is right for you? We take a look at some of the key considerations when deciding which platform is the best fit.
In the case of an emergency or a critical incident, speed can be a crucial element of reducing downtime and cost as well as increasing productivity. The emergency platform that you choose needs to be able to meet your needs when it comes to response times and how quickly your alerts can be delivered and should be a key consideration in your decision. This isn’t just about the actual speed at which notifications are delivered, but is also how quickly the system can be activated before sending thousands of messages simultaneously across a variety of channels.
Everybody in your organisation will likely have a different preference for how they receive communications so if your notification platform only uses one or two channels it can be assumed that you could miss a number of people who never think to check the traditional channels and would prefer to receive messages by another medium. For example, many employees will be more responsive to text messages or push notifications over email as the way we communicate has changed drastically with the introduction of smartphones and wearable tech. By ensuring that the platform you choose offers support for a variety of channels you can reach all of your team regardless of where they are or what device they are using.
In an increasingly connected world, it is not unusual to have a remote workforce, or several satellite locations all working from the same systems which makes the ability to group audiences more necessary and relevant than ever. We know that people tend to ignore alerts when they are exposed to a lot of alerts that are irrelevant to them, so targeted notifications are a powerful tool in avoiding alert fatigue and improving engagement.
Responding to a crisis or emergency can be a stressful experience and it can be easy in the heat of the moment to miss important information out of your communication, or the time taken to create the notification could be the different between life and death. An important consideration in any system therefore is the ability to create templates, or to choose from a library of pre-existing templates to speed up the process of creating and sending an emergency communication.
We have mentioned that communication methods have changed, and the emergency notifications platform that you choose should reflect the current technology used by your employees. It makes sense that the system should include a mobile application that support both iOS and Android systems as well as common wearable technology to ensure that your message is received in a way which is meaningful and engaging for the user.
Ease of Use
It is essential that the platform is easy to use, especially when you consider that in an emergency situation every second counts. The system that you choose should have as few steps and tutorials required as possible to enable you to send alerts quickly, efficiently and easily. Make sure that it is intuitive and easy to integrate with your existing processes and HR systems, that alert creation is simple and that it doesn’t add extra tasks to your existing admin tasks.
In some situations, a simple one-way alert to inform or update on the status of a situation or incident is all you need, but what happens when the alerts you send require a response? A good emergency communication platform will include two-way communication as standard to allow you to solicit and collate responses to see at-a-glance how many and who is affected by an ongoing situation to allow you to provide targeted support and help where it is needed the most.
If you consider the systems that you are already using in your business it is likely that your employees are already engaging with them in a meaningful way on a regular basis which is why the ability to integrate with your existing systems is an important part of any system you look to include in your emergency and crisis planning. This also gives your emergency notification system different ways to reach the same employee if their preferred method is unsuccessful first time which can help you ensure wellbeing in an emergency as well as helping you target who receives the notifications in the first place.
Just like other areas of your business, being able to report on the effectiveness of your emergency communications is important for making decisions on how you respond to emergencies in the future and where improvements can be made moving forward. It can also help with identifying channels which are most responsive and those which are perhaps obsolete to allow for further streamlining of the alerting process. The platform that you choose should allow for clear reporting on your incident management.
Whatever platform you choose will be storing user data as well as transmitting potentially sensitive information so choosing a system with enhanced security is an important consideration. An enterprise-level security system will ensure that there are proper protocols in place with encryption and data security to comply with international data laws and keep your communications and employees data safe from unauthorised persons and use. This includes encryption in transit and at rest, industry standard application security and measurement and monitoring protocols to protect your business.
Regardless of the platform you decide to implement into your business you should consider what customer support options are available to you. This can include whether they are in the same time zone and what out-of-hours support they can offer, and who will be providing that support. Just as an emergency or critical incident can occur at any time, so can your need for support to ensure business continuity.
How do you access the platform? This is a key consideration when it comes to choosing an emergency alert system as ultimately how the system is accessed during an emergency or critical incident can change the way you respond to an incident. If the platform is cloud-based you should be able to access it from anywhere and at any time via a reliably-hosted portal. If it is on a specific workstation or location on site is it susceptible to being unavailable for any reason? A cloud solution is generally more reliable and easier to manage and usually do not need to be upgraded or managed.
As we have discussed, there are many questions to ask of an emergency notification system to ensure that it is the right one for your business that will ensure you can grow into it, rather than out of it, and that it will support you throughout any crises or emergencies.
Are there any other considerations we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!
To see how Klaxon can help you answer these questions and many more, schedule a demo today.