A More Modern Mass Notification System
We are coming to the end of National Preparedness Month so it only makes sense we talk about mass notification systems and whether or not you have one in place. The government has ways to notify you in case of an emergency, traditionally via television and radio broadcasts. But even the typically slow-to-change government is recognizing the value of social media and other ways to gain attention from the masses and help everyone be prepared before an emergency ever happens.
The Ready Campaign and the Ad Council have released social media resources to reach people where they are – social media – to encourage them to make a plan. FEMA is encouraging people around the country to have the conversation with their families and co-workers about what they could do and how they can communicate during an emergency.
Are You Prepared?
While having a plan for your family is vital, understanding most of our days are spent not at home, but at work, changes things up a bit. Does your company have a plan and an emergency notification system in place? Have you practiced it enough to know exactly what to do if something happens?
FEMA offers an app where users can receive weather alerts for up to five different areas, view an emergency preparedness checklist, and get safety tips for numerous emergency situations. It also lists shelters and gives users the ability to upload photos to help emergency managers. This is a far cry from the blaring siren we are used to hearing on our TVs and radios.
While the FEMA app is a fantastic and relatively modern tool, companies have an obligation to do more to protect employees. A mass notification system is a way to reach a group of people in a specific location with customized messaging and two-way communication. It is an automated system, not a simple alert. The system is designed to notify, instruct, engage, and report. It’s a system that should include many variables, including the company’s mouthpiece, the employees, the IT leaders, the first responders, the weather radar and meteorologists, and even the electric company. Why? Because while we fear weather events most, it’s IT outages that most often trigger an emergency notification, followed closely by weather-related incidents and power outages.
Emergency plans must take into account more than just an IT outage or weather event. There are so many “what ifs” we could come up with yet most of our company’s emergency plans hardly cover the most likely to occur. Even if a company has a plan, it can be challenging to find the time to communicate it and practice it with the employees.
Communication Is Key
The best plan of action is to have, as part of your system, a modern way to communicate – communicate with employees and everyone who may be involved in the emergency. Communication will be the lifeline when any emergency strikes. Email and phone aren’t enough. Today’s worker is mobile and uses multiple channels to communicate. Companies need to be right there with them. Just like FEMA recognizes the value of mobile apps and social media, companies must get on board to leverage technology to protect employees.
The value of communication comes down to one thing: speed. In an emergency, the goal is to reach the people who will be impacted as quickly as possible. How do you reach them? You must be where they are, at least virtually. Whether it’s social media, mobile phones, app push notifications, or email, your emergency notification system must be able to reach them on all these channels, plus any custom channels you may provide. Text, app push, voice, email, and social are all channels we use simultaneously hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day. Why wouldn’t your emergency system include all of them?
Critically Review Your Plan
Before the month ends, make it a priority to review your current emergency plan. Where could it use improvements? How could the notifications be accelerated to reach the most people the fastest? How easy is it to customize the messages employees receive? Does it provide an easy way for employees to communicate with administrators, leaders, and other employees during an emergency? How many channels is your current plan able to utilize?
These are all important questions that need to be answered and National Preparedness Month is the perfect opportunity to make it a priority. Your employees are counting on you to keep them safe. Make sure your emergency plan is up to par.