Report: Mass notification moving beyond SMS communications

Solutions that use multimodal delivery systems becoming a necessity


According to a new report from IHS, providers of mass notification systems software are beginning to embrace to new methods for delivering alerts beyond text messages.

Traditionally, IHS said that MNS software has use short message service (SMS) as the sole means for sending out warnings to recipients. However, SMS can be compromised during large-scale emergencies and MNS vendors are now looking into how they can push notification and apps to smartphones which have become more ubiquitous in recent years.

“The reliability of traditional telephone networks has always been a hit-or-miss proposition in the event of an emergency,” Omar Talpur, security, fire and access control analyst at IHS said in a statement. “In the case of a major event, such as the Boston Marathon bombing, a city’s entire telephone network can go down. For organizations that solely rely on SMS text messages to send MNS messages, such an emergency would have prevented warnings from being received. However, if those organizations could push warnings out to smartphones, many of the MNS alerts could still have been communicated.”

Since 2009, MNS push notifications have been made available through smartphone apps that provide users with the ability to message over Wi-Fi, eliminating the need for traditional phone networks to be operative.

While push notifications have a clear benefit, as highlighted with Boston Marathon bombing, the effectiveness of this approach depends upon the level of adoption of smartphones by end users. However, this is becoming less of an issue with an increasing number of people moving to smartphones. At the same time, push notifications would be supplementary to the existing SMS system that is in place with full replacement unlikely to occur.

“Multimodal systems that use various means of communication to end users are becoming a necessity to ensure that individuals are kept well-informed during emergency situations,” Talpur added. “SMS will continue to represent a part of an MNS. But as new technologies emerge, its influence on the overall MNS is expected to diminish. To keep up with the market, suppliers who have focused solely on SMS communications will need to invest in other technologies, or run the risk of being left behind in a very lucrative market.”

For more information about the “North American and European Markets for Mass Notification Systems” report, visit www.ihs.com.