October 17, 2018
Product News

Safety First: Digital Signage Emergency Alerts App

Why Workplaces Must Digitally Broadcast Emergency Alerts 

As repetitive as day-to-day life can be, the strange truth is, we never know exactly when things will take a sharp turn. From a bout of violence to severe weather, dangerous circumstances can develop when we least expect it. That’s why it’s so important to take smart, effective preventative measures to protect yourself and everyone else in your facility.

The base-level protocol in schools, businesses and hospitals is to deploy a mass push notification that appears on the cell phone screen of everyone on the network. If your organization hasn’t yet installed this type of program, that’s step 1. 

No question about it, emergency mobile messaging is a must -- but it’s not sufficient on its own. Put simply, it’s not going to serve the ultimate purpose of warning every last person in harm’s way. Already have that system in place? Excellent. Now let’s talk about how to improve it.


The Worst Case Scenario is Ignoring Worst Case Scenarios 

Nobody anticipates a dangerous situation when they’re inside a bathroom stall or performing a dental exam. Everyday moments can change in an instant, and it’s not wise to assume that every last person will take a break to see why their phones are buzzing.

Using multiple channels isn’t just about compensating for people who might miss the text alert. Consider this: What if, for some reason, the mobile push notification doesn’t deploy? 

By folding other devices into the process, the risk of failure plummets. Audio and visual cues coming from various sources ensure that nobody is out of the loop when it matters most.

Expecting the unexpected isn’t about paranoia or pessimism. It’s about being proactive and protective. And in the event that you need to put your emergency notification system to use, you’ll be relieved that you thought ahead to keep everybody safe.

The Best Alert Notification Systems Grab Attention Via Sight And Sound

Installing lighting and digital signage can make a massive difference during all types of situations. Lights can, for example, illuminate to show exit pathways or change color to indicate the status of a developing issue.

And digital signage is crucial for people moving quickly through a facility: They’re not going to be able to check their phones or computers while making rapid exits, so helpful signage on walls makes all the difference.

Hear this: Texts alone are not going to effectively alert people that something serious is amiss. We all look at screens all day long. When you truly need to get the attention of every single person near and far, a few words on a little iPhone aren’t going to cut it. Hope you’ve heard this loud and clear.

Sound the Alarm: Emergency Alert Audio Must Be Loud

You’re reading this on a screen. We read lots of stuff on screens: Documents, emails, texts, tweets, and the like. All things considered, we like screens! 

Ever get annoyed when a relative calls with a dumb question instead of just texting it instead? The world has become very accustomed to reading and quickly processing information. That’s why it may come as a surprise that the best emergency notification systems don’t put all their stock in screens.

Yes, we spend all day looking at our phones and computers -- but that doesn’t mean they’re the best vehicles to inform us when something serious is happening. No doubt about it: Seeing a bright-red alert appear across laptops and phones can make it obvious that something is wrong.

But if we want that message to get through loud and clear, well, we’ve got to put some more emphasis on loud. The team at Singlewire Software developed programs that deploy emergency notifications via phone, desktop, and laptop. But in addition to those visual cues, those items and other speakers throughout the facility produce critical audio messages.

Singlewire’s EVP of product management and marketing refers to the functionality as “intrusive audio” -- they force people to snap out of their work routines and realize something’s happening. “What we do that’s different is not only do we send to the mobile phone, which everybody does, but we send to these on-premises devices -- and we do not not just with text, but with audio, which is very intrusive and grabs your attention,” he says.

That idea takes shape in a number of different ways. One method is through landline phones that sit on desks. With Singlewire’s programming, each individual phone can turn into a broadcasting device through the speaker. It will do that automatically; nobody has to put the phone to their ear to hear the information. Another method is to “go to existing overhead speakers and add new intelligence to that device,” he said, modernizing the technology so it works in more effective ways.

Refurbish Your Workplace Security System Without Breaking the Budget

According to recent studies, messages sent to mobile devices only reach, on average, 80% of the target audience -- and that percentage can drop much lower in different types of work environments, especially ones where employees don’t keep their phones on hand. 

During our latest Business Impact Workshop, Singlewire Software explained how they expanded upon the standard push notification process to create a multi-channel system. Their goal? Close that 20% gap. Desktop computers, laptops, landline phones and digital signage can all be optimized with new technology to become essential tools during moments of crisis. 

By incorporating multiple different devices instead of simply relying on cell phones, you’re making the greatest possible effort to expect the unexpected. Consider a large campus with thousands of people spread out between dozens of facilities. How do you reach everyone without breaking the bank?

“If you have 15 buildings on campus, in a traditional overhead paging scenario, you are sending messages to each one of those speakers individually,” explains Pat Schekel, Singlewire’s EVP of Product Management and Marketing. “So if there’s an issue at Building A and you want the next 10 buildings to know, we can light up all those systems at once.”

School, church, hospital, the office -- no matter the type of building, security is always a top concern. Unfortunately, we’re all familiar with horrific situations that transpired in places that should never be touched by violence. As we move forward, we have to do our best to equip these facilities with emergency notification systems designed to keep the maximum amount of people safe.

Everybody agrees that when it comes to safety, money should be no object. The reality? There’s always a budget. But in many cases, existing devices can be re-engineered with new intelligence to operate in more effective ways.

Digitize Your Emergency Notification System

Making the most of current infrastructure is a strategy often used by the team at Singlewire Software. Instead of working around older technology, they’ve designed programs that easily work through more dated devices like landline phones and speaker systems.

This process of reconfiguring existing devices is especially useful in extremely large spaces, like gymnasiums and sporting arenas. Many colleges, for example, have jumbotrons installed in their gyms. Those screens are optimized to show sports scores and basic messaging.

But a bit of re-engineering can make them critical tools for clearly displaying information during emergencies. Crowds can quickly become panicked, and avoiding mass chaos during high-stress situations is fundamental. (Jumbotrons are also important for conveying crucial intel given how terrible cell phone reception tends to be in arenas.)

Yes, developing a strong security system can seem daunting and expensive. But, fortunately enough, the truth is that your facility may already have most of the equipment it needs in order to keep people safe. It’s just a matter of getting the right tech in there to bring your old devices right into 2019.

The Pros and Cons of Digital Signage as a Mass Notification System

No one wants to think about these topics, but preparing for them is vital. When disaster strikes, your school or organization needs to have a plan of action. Industry Weapon’s Alerts App helps you focus on safety and stay prepared.

In the event of an emergency, you need the ability to communicate clearly and immediately. The first step of workplace safety is to quickly inform everyone in the area. The best way to spread a unified message is with digital signage.

The Alerts App connects your existing safety and alert system with the CommandCenterHD digital signage platform. As soon as the system identifies an emergency, it transmits your message over your existing digital signage network. 

The message informs people of the situation and provides details like evacuation procedures. The signs display an emergency alert and any relevant information, such as evacuation procedures. After resolving the situation, the signage will return to the originally scheduled content.  



Digital Signage and the 4 Steps of Crisis Management

In the event of an emergency, the first step is to inform the entire campus, as efficiently as possible. The fastest, most useful way to spread the message is the application of your digital signage. Even more than the traditional alarm which doesn't tell people what is the issue and what to do next.

Once an emergency is triggered via your alert system, it will send down a message that will take over the displays of your choice with emergency notifications and any relevant information, such as evacuation procedures.

Furthermore, digital signage assists in creating safer working environments by communicating dynamic safety content. Implement digital signage to transmit the Four Steps of Crisis Management.


1.) Prevention

Reduce damage risks by avoiding dangerous situations. Create ‘Prevention Campaigns’ to play on all signage during regular days. Focus on the process of handling worst-case scenarios. These campaigns can play in a cycle with other channels daily, to ensure their message reaches all audiences.

- Incorporate tips for preventing fires.

- Supply information for public transit, shuttles, or taxis.

- Include health tips.

- Warn the site of low or high temperatures. 

- Supply contact information for security if suspicious activity is witnessed onsite.

- Create informative slides that teach viewers how to use defibrillators or administer CPR.

2.) Preparedness

Instill a chain of command for each crises category. Create multiple escape routes to ‘safety-zones’ in case of obstructions. Integrate these plans into your digital signage as automated alerts during an event.

- Customize campaigns to point out where to find the nearest first aid kits in proximity to each Digital Sign.

- Use Way-finding integrations to inform users of fire escape routes.

- Dedicate slides that identify floor/area/department leaders who will account for employees and patrons.

- Create instructional slides to teach viewers how to use or assemble necessary equipment, like fire extinguishers.

3.) Response

'Response' is the term for how to put plans into action during an event. With the Alert Integration, your message is automatically displayed on the signage in the case of an emergency. This allows the staff to take care of their number one priority- the patrons. 

Instead of communicating via email and phone, the Alert Integration lets the staff make use of their preparations and focus on establishing a recovery plan.

4.) Recovery

Recovery relates to how to regain normalcy after a situation. Each emergency requires a different recovery plan. After the event, the Alert Integrations will stop and regular campaigns will resume. This helps the environment to resume regularity. Workplace activities should return to their typical schedule during this time.

Integrated Alerts for Workplace Health and Safety Programs

With the Alert App, automated emergency information is transmitted to the appropriate outlets. Businesses can rest assured that they are fully compliant. The integration uses the fastest communication channels to notify employees and patrons in the event of an emergency.

The Alert Integration also stays compliant with the Clery Act; emergency information is automatically disclosed to the appropriate outlets. Campuses can rest assured they are fully compliant while having every communication channel prepared to notify students in the event of an emergency.  

Emergencies catch us off guard. No one wants to think about these topics, let alone prepare for them; but when disaster strikes, your school needs to have a proficient plan of action. With proper preparations for emergency alerts, digital signage is the most effective way to reach everyone.