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The Merits of Facility-Wide Communication Platforms

Composition of communication related images

 

We’re generally optimists…there’s a ton of exciting stuff going on in technology, and even more advancements on the horizon.

 

But, for as incredible of a world as we live in, facilities still face a number of threats (both internal and external). No matter how far we’ve come, we still need to prepare for events such as fires, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and (sadly) even armed intruders.

 

History has shown that risks like these are most effectively mitigated when:

 

  • Dangers are identified and understood well in advance
  • Contingency plans are in place (such as clearly marked exit paths, routinely practiced fire drills, etc.)
  • All affected personnel are aware of the issue at hand, thus allowing them to make informed decisions

 

Recently, we’ve been giving more thought to this last step, as communication is a powerful tool in improving welfare, and mitigating risk.

 

For years, college campuses have employed emergency text notification systems (in addition to traditional alarms) which help quickly disseminate their most urgent messages…everything from tornado warnings to reports of gunmen. The result is a better informed collective of students, teachers, and administrators, who in turn can protect themselves and others by seeking shelter and acting in accord with previously discussed plans.

 

Regarding the value of diversified messaging systems, an article by Campus Safety Magazine had this to say:

 

“Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each system is critical. What may be a great way of communicating indoors may be inadequate outside. Reaching one-time visitors or patients as opposed to students who regularly are on campus poses another challenge. Because each solution has its own set of limitations, a layered approach involving multiple types of technologies is usually recommended by mass notification experts.”

 

By and large, non-campus facilities don’t have all these same capabilities yet—most rely solely on traditional alarm systems. But, imagine an office in which any cell phone user could quickly alert coworkers that an aggressive intruder had entered the building? Or, one in which exit paths for a fire could be quickly identified and showed via your phone once an employee reported the location of flames? Even if the improvement is as small as 10-20 seconds over in-place systems, that’s more than enough time to save lives.

 

Of course, mass communication platforms don’t need to be used for emergencies only. In fact, by creating segmented lists (i.e. “Finance Department,” “Marketing,” etc.), organizations could use systems like these to help share quick messages or call for impromptu meetings in ways that would be to unreliable via intermittent email checkers and too time consuming through individual phone calls.

 

Naturally, such messages would need to be sufficiently differentiated from emergency notifications (perhaps by using different tones) to make sure truly urgent notes still carried the same impact.

 

All-in-all, there’s still a lot to consider in how a dynamic, company-wide messaging system might work, but plenty of incentive to believe such systems might ultimately become integral portions of any given facility’s communication system.

 

What communication gaps could your organization improve upon? What communication gaps do you already fill within your organization(s)? 

 

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