Implementing an Emergency Mass Notification/Location System

Things to consider prior to purchasing an MNS solution

5) IP-Based System: An IP-based system is a necessity, particularly with the emergence of the Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) concept. It quickly is becoming the next standard for all security devices and systems so it is important that what you buy meets these requirements to help guarantee a sound investment for the future. There are numerous functions such a system can monitor to offer you a way to derive business information as an added benefit. Such systems can serve as an excellent perimeter protection solution. Other items, like fire extinguishers and all the different kinds of sensors that can be employed-whether they are analog output or contact types of sensors-can be tracked. Monitoring critical temperatures or processes also is possible and can provide a measurable payback. All of this information can be put onto the network to then generate information which can be correlated and presented to management to help them better manage the business and increase their efficiency.

6) Simplicity is Key: Simplicity of a system is a very critical component in determining the best solution that fits your needs. The system should be something that is 1) easy to install and deploy 2) easily integrated with existing systems, and 3) easy to maintain and modify as your needs change.

7) Outbound Communication Options: An emergency mass notification system needs to offer a variety of ways to get the word out fast to the people who need to know. At the basic level, there is the need to know incident information, risk/hazard locations and resource locations. Each role, from security personnel to security director to dispatcher to command and control, requires access to information. These information requirements are role-specific and vary in degrees of urgency.

In addition, the mass notification system should deploy several ways of notifying key emergency personnel when needed with escalation capabilities if confirmation is not received. Managed alerts can be simple text messages, e-mails and phone calls and may be directed to mobile responders. You want to ensure the solution fits your internal response and workflow methodology so that you send managed alerts to the proper authorized people based on the time and day of the week.

There are a number of technologies available in the market today that can meet the needs of security directors and integrators. Emerging new wireless systems are one possible effective solution because they are easy to install, highly reliable, offer situational awareness capabilities and are also able to pinpoint the mobile location of a call for help so that responders know where assistance is needed. They also can easily interface with mass notification systems that are simple and easy to understand, such as text, e-mail and text-to-speech messages to reach mobile responders. In addition, wireless systems can easily connect with other existing in-building protection solutions, such as fire alarms, access control and environmental monitoring systems. For these reasons, when evaluating emergency mass notification and location systems, wireless is one of the most appealing choices to consider.

Mark Jarman is president of Inovonics ( He has served in the security and wireless industries for more than two decades and can be reached at