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4 Key Mass Notification Considerations: Delivering Time-Sensitive Information to College and University Communities

Oct 01, 2019, by Ben Fineman
Tags: Mitel/Level 3 SIP Services, Security, Security & Identity

Enhanced mass notification capabilities have continued to gain traction in college and university communities over the last few years. The need for real-time information is at an all-time high, driving higher education leaders to make a renewed commitment to providing students, faculty, parents and staff with advanced outbound communications that go beyond traditional communications technology and protocols. Here are four key mass notification considerations:

The Internet2 NET+ SIP Service

The Internet2 community tracks important technological advances in the evaluation of services available to members. Through Internet2 NET+, members and carefully evaluated cloud service providers drive secure, easily deployed and integrated commercial cloud applications that help maximize efficiencies and minimize the business and legal challenges, financial costs, and technology risks of using cloud-based solutions— soon including Mitel Revolution, a platform creat-ed for universities and other high-demand organizations.

Mitel Revolution is based on Mitel Clearspan, that is a powerful carrier grade architecture capable of serving hundreds of thousands of users without sacrificing speed, ease of management or reliability.

1)   Addressing the demands of diverse campus user groups.

As college and university populations grow in size and campus locations become more numerous and widespread, higher education leaders are proactively seeking new, more effective ways to keep people informed, connected and safe.

Increased smartphone ownership and usage and shifting preferences for specific communication channels is the “new normal,” driving stakeholders to seek a mass notification system that reflects today’s mobile-first world. Typical user groups for mass/incident notification include students, parents, faculty and staff members, emergency responders, campus management teams and media.

2)    Capabilities designed for a mobile campus environment.

Effective on-campus mass notification must prioritize the ability to communicate with a wide-range of devices and achieve out-of-the-box integration with automatic alerts from Emergency Notification Services.

Current system installations provide alerts using live, pre-recorded, or scheduled broadcasts, multimodal communications to IP phones, mobile devices, overhead speakers, loud horns, digital signs, and geo-location controls that ensure recipients receive relevant information based on their current locations.

Integration with unified communications systems means extended deliverability to all end points with interoperability, eliminating the need to duplicate notification system communications and processes between your phone/UC applications and the mass notification platform, including Internet of Things functionality such as the ability to remotely activate door locks.

3)    Routine Communications

Used on a daily basis, routine communications protocols issue important event reminders, facility closures, class cancellations and other time-sensitive information-- sharing information in real-time, on-the-fly, or via scheduled notifications that easily notify large or segmented groups via email, SMS texts, and display boards.

A scheduler tool can send non-emergency information to those on or off campus. Examples include schedule and appointment listings, early closings or other notifications of importance to students, parents, faculty/staff, or others nearby.

4)    Emergency Alerts

Reserved for critical events and disasters, emergency communications protocols deliver time-sensitive information, provide support for integrated panic buttons, automatically receive alerts from external early-warning systems, trigger and receive notification of events in the field using a mobile app, and alert others in or nearby affected facilities.

When an emergency occurs, response time becomes a critical component to protecting those in harm’s way. Advanced mass notification systems can be programmed to respond based on manual or automated triggers and also by external early-warning systems.   

Mass notification technologies are a powerful tool designed for informing, protecting and enabling campus communities to communicate quickly and efficiently, whether for the purpose of early warning alerts, emergency notifications, or daily routine communications.  Today’s advanced notification platforms solutions support out-of-the-box integration with both software and hardware to deliver the mobility-focused resources today’s college and university populations require.