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Spoken with Your Security Director Lately?

by David Smith

Safety has returned as a top-of-mind topic in facility management circles. Most notably, active shooter scenarios and prevention have become a concern as the media continues to report incidents across the US and the globe. The use of access controls and video surveillance equipment is vital to the prevention and post-event review of threat. However, it is the dissemination of information during any type of emergency – weather, fire or human-related, that is critical to the safety of employees and building occupants. 

Reach. Clarity. Redundancy. Reaching 100% of your intended audience 100% of the time is the most vital component of the emergency communication system. Our traditional thinking puts us in places such as open and closed offices, cafeterias and even parking garages. But coverage must be complete. Non-traditional places such as stair wells, bathrooms, and rally points must be considered as part of the plan. Once you’ve identified where you need to be to reach your intended audience, ask yourself, “Do they understand the message?” Messages must be clear. And the must be concise. Emergency situations induce levels of panic and long messages should not be considered “clear.” Clear, direct and specific action must be communicated to ensure safety. Last, redundant methods of communication ensure message delivery as well as heighten the sense of urgency. How many times have your building occupants ignored the fire drill alarm? Multiple methods of communication creates attention to the situation. It also ensures receipt of the message. 

Returning from SIA’s ISC West security event taught us that many security directors are uncertain about the communication solutions available for mass notification emergency communication events. Traditional product or software solutions have typically occupied the safety decisions these managers have had to make. However, with the further adoption of the National Fire Protection Agency’s code 72: Fire Alarm and Signaling, it is time to see the bigger picture. 

Lencore’s n.FORM engineered system solution for mass notification emergency communications operates on an open-protocol platform which allows it to “talk” to many of these other traditional products. Access controls, video monitoring and more can help trigger specific communications which would direct building occupants to safety. Now is the time to ask the question: “What are we doing for mass notification in the event of an emergency?” Explore the alternatives and determine if you have in place the right solution for your needs.