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Why is a Mass Notification System So Important for School Campuses?

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

These days, school campuses have a greater responsibility than ever to keep students and faculty safe. Unfortunately, a crisis can occur at any time—and without the proper avenue for notifying people on campus of dangerous situations as they unfold, countless lives could be put at risk. For this reason, many campuses across the country have begun implementing mass notification systems in addition to re-visiting their existing emergency procedures. Specifically, it's estimated that nearly 75 percent of campuses have recently bought or will soon buy a mass notification solution.

Compliance with the HEOA

Following the tragic 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, a final program review determination found that the school "did not comply with timely warning issuance and policy provisions," according to a Campus Safety Magazine article. Since then, the United States Department of Education has released updates to the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) that require schools to implement and summarize emergency response policies in their annual reports.

While the specific terms and conditions of the HEOA are still up for debate in some aspects, the general purpose of the revised requirements was to prevent another situation such as the one that occurred at Virginia Tech, where lives may have been saved if students and faculty had been properly warned of the danger on campus.

Having a mass notification system, along with reviewing and revising emergency procedures as needed each year, can help campuses remain in compliance with HEOA requirements.

Keep Students and Faculty Informed

While a mass notification system may not prevent crises from occurring on campus, they can help to reduce the risk to students and faculty. Mass notification systems can utilize a number of communication options to let students and faculty know about a potentially dangerous situation, such as a weather emergency, act of terror, mass shooting, or chemical/bio hazard. Some examples of communication methods may include:

  • E-mails
  • Text messages
  • Wide Area Audible Communication
  • In-Building Audible Communication

Furthermore, visual cues such as strobes, message board displays, and digital signage may also be useful in ensuring the message is clear to everybody on campus and reaches as many people as possible.

Send Emergency and Non-Emergency Notifications

Mass notification systems aren't just useful in emergencies; they can also come in handy for non-emergency communication across multiple campuses and locations. This could include anything from a weather-related delay or cancelation of classes to general notifications on campus elections and events.

Selecting a Mass Notification System: Not a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

When it comes to choosing a mass notification system, there are a number of factors to consider. It is important to recognize that no two campuses will have the same needs. This is why finding a flexible and customizable option is so vital. Some potential features to be on the lookout for include:

  • Zoning capabilities to group larger campuses into separate and smaller communication zones
  • Pre-recorded messaging and announcements in the event of an emergency
  • System monitoring and reporting capabilities
  • A variety of notification options to ensure reach (visual, audio, email, text)
  • System redundancies for added, fail-safe security and peace of mind

For school campuses looking into implementing a mass notification system (or switching from a different notification service), finding a provider that can understand and accommodate all the campus' unique needs is a must. Lencore specializes in system solutions for mass notification and emergency communications, providing reliable systems that address the two most critical factors in emergency notifications: reach and clarity.

To find out more about Lencore's mass notification solutions for campuses or to request a free quote, reach out to their team today.