What to Expect From Your Mass Notification System
As you think about how your team can use technology to communicate with your people, these must-have elements of a modern mass notification system should be utilized to mitigate loss during any critical event.
Law firms face a significant challenge during critical events: quickly locating their people to keep them safe. Lawyers, and those supporting their activities, typically do not work solely in one location. At any given time, some of them will be working in offices, spread across floors, buildings, cities, and even countries while others will be working from home or visiting a client location. This fluid movement has traditionally challenged how firm leadership connects people with the timely information needed to improve outcomes during emergencies.
The evolution of the emergency mass notification market has improved how law firms communicate. Some products focus on speed, accelerating message creation, and delivery. Other advancements simplify how company administrators locate people and understand their proximity to danger. As you think about how your firm can use technology to communicate with your people, these must-have elements of a modern mass notification system should be utilized to mitigate loss during any critical event.
Characteristics of Some Modern Systems
Multi-channel notification delivery:
Mass notification is no longer represented by a person sending a one-way text blast to an audience. Sure, text messages often rise above the noise of email and phone calls, but during an emergency event, leaders should use every available channel associated with a person—text, phone call, email, social media, mobile app push, intranet, Slack, television screens in the lobby, and any other message destination available to your organization.
When a critical event strikes, every second counts. Instead of writing a new message, leverage a pre-built template that already includes the message type, which channels will be used for message delivery, the audience you need to reach, and your message. Templates save valuable time and allow leaders to send a message to the appropriate people in just a couple of clicks.
When an emergency occurs, the people closest to the emergency can often be the ones with the most information. Modern systems offer two-way messaging, allowing the audience to submit content and reply to messages. For a wellness check, send a message with a read confirmation. This type of message requests a person to acknowledge receipt, often by pressing the number one on their phone. When people don’t acknowledge receipt, resend the message across multiple channels until delivery is confirmed. To solicit more specific feedback, send a question to the audience in the form of a survey to assess impact severity, office conditions, and recipient needs.
An event page provides one location for the ongoing management of your event, a place you can distribute status updates, important resources and media, and severity levels. Instead of sending a mass message each time you have an update, use an event page as a place your people can visit to get up-to-date information and submit messages.
Many emergency events only impact a portion of your workforce, and a great mass notification system will help you find the right audience for a message. Most organizations first organize their people based on location. This grouping provides basic filtering for location-based notifications like office closures, inclement weather, and other local emergencies. Given the wide range of potential critical events, organizations also organize their people by department, project team, management level, and other attributes to create dynamic groups. For example, you might send a message to only the employees who are scheduled to be on duty, presently in the Austin office, at manager level or higher.
Native mobile applications:
Modern mass notification vendors offer native mobile applications for both iOS and Android devices, improving safety communications on multiple fronts. First, mobile applications (apps) allow your people to share their location on an integrated map so you can pinpoint a person’s location relative to any event. Second, mobile apps can be used to push notifications, offering a valuable additional channel for message delivery. Third, mobile apps can be used to deliver real-time updates about weather, traffic, or other information from third-party sources. Finally, your people can use the mobile app to send messages to your system administrator, including calls for help, photos, and videos from the frontlines.
Your notification system’s integrated map will visually display your people and offices in proximity to the events you’re tracking. When you see inclement weather on the radar, a road closure on the major freeway, or a shooting at a nearby building, you can determine which of your people face danger. Select to see the exact physical location of your incoming messages and communicate directly with your offices and people from the map view.
With a geo-fencing system, draw a virtual fence around a particular area in danger, and alert every employee within that fenced area with targeted messaging. Whether your people are in your office, traveling, or working remotely for the day, they will remain informed and alert. And importantly, your communication will only go to employees in harm’s way, not the broader audience.
Integrating with existing internal business systems, such as HR systems and employee directories, automates manual entries to save precious time when uploading employees into a system. While this basic integration gives you the foundation for audience grouping, you can also integrate additional data sources to improve targeting capabilities. If you have a large group of traveling employees, sync your organization’s travel data with your notification system to create dynamic groups. For example, if you have ten employees booked at a hotel in London, those employees would be part of a dynamic London group, joining your other employees who live and work in the area.
Curated event monitoring:
Your mass notification provider should be watching the world around you and your people, delivering real-time updates as nearby events unfold. Subscribe to trusted sources local to your facilities, including local news channels, police departments, weather services, and traffic updates. By leveraging third party event monitoring, your organization will be better equipped to protect your people as you’ll learn about events more quickly.
Information protects people during emergency events, and your mass notification provider plays a crucial role in delivering that information in a timely manner. With today’s available features, it’s never been easier to find your people, group them into relevant audiences, and deliver key updates to improve safety outcomes during a crisis.
Reprinted with permission from the April 2018 edition of the LegalTech News© 2018 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. ALMReprints.com – 877-257-3382 – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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