Why are emergency notification systems important?

Emergency notification systems (ENS) are classified as text-like messages, categorised by geographic location, that are delivered to recipients’ mobile devices to warn of imminent threat or danger.

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Government’s across the globe such as the US, South Korea and the Netherlands have signed up to a system whereby in times of emergency, it is possible to send messages to entire populations via their mobile phones.

These systems should be on an internal communicators’ radar because with teams working in different locations, possibly separated by many miles, it’s imperative that there is a way to get in touch with employees in case of an emergency.

Of course, channels such as Yammer, Teams and good old phone calls are fine, but these are more useful for everyday communications, as opposed to in an emergency situation. Yammer and Teams conversations can be overlooked, for example, if you were incorrectly tagged or had a particularly busy day. With ENS, most people are aware of message notifications on their phone during the working day, and so it means that the safety broadcast will reach everyone more quickly.

Emergency notification systems are important in internal communications because they allow organisations to ensure their employees are safe by having an emergency plan in place. Considering the gaps in ‘official’ notifications, private companies are providing the service instead, through a variety of software.

The Government and related organisations have made progress in implementing new systems. In 2013, during the coalition government, a project was launched to trial emergency notification systems on a wider scale, focused particularly on delivering these messages to devices in selected areas. In a 3-month trial, 35,000 messages were sent to the public. Local communications made sure that this group of people were aware that it was a trial and not a genuine emergency.

Emergency responders and the public were both surveyed on their thoughts after the trial, with 85% of people agreeing that a mobile alert system was a good idea. Despite this excellent feedback, the ENS weren’t implemented.

The great news is that internal communicators can use this information and data to protect their employees. Emergency Notification Systems should be used as part of a larger wellbeing strategy, in a variety of situations. For example, in extreme weather or serious situations such as terrorist attacks, employers can warn their teams and encourage them to stay safe.

Receiving a notification from their employer in these situations could lead to improved employee trust in their leaders and overall communication between teams. Implementing an ENS is a consideration budget-wise, but with remote working and a distributed workforce, IC professionals need to be forward-thinking and open to the benefits they provide.

Following the onset of Coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns, the NHS Track and Trace app could be considered a form of the same idea — providing notifications to users who may be unsafe, due to a possible exposure to the disease.

Examples of ENS software available for IC teams include AlertMedia, Crises Control, Klaxon and Tekmon. Each of these pieces of software includes the following features: two-way communication, mass notifications, message templates, geo-targeting and contact management.

Are you using ENS’ within your organisation? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

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