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What is Mass Notification?

When it comes to an emergency situation, you can be sure about only one thing: at some point, it’s going to happen to you. When that time comes, how will you get critical information, and how will you know that an effective emergency response is on the way? Mass notification systems provide a way to alert, protect, and communicate during a critical event. They ensure that the right message is delivered to the right people when it matters most.
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Why You Need A Mass Notification System

As the world changes around us, the need for a modern emergency alert system grows. Technical innovations have enabled certain organizations to thrive in the face of an emergency situation. From climate-related disasters to active shooter threats on university campuses, your emergency response in a critical event means the difference between life or death. Which type of mass emergency could your organization encounter?
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Active Shooter Attacks

Widespread panic or incorrect information in this nightmare scenario causes irreparable harm. On a campus or densely-populated area, mass notification systems can help keep people safe and inform them how to find shelter and safety. A mass notification also allows you to communicate quickly, cutting off any incorrect information being spread through social media or word-of-mouth.
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Pandemics

Pandemics can strike at any time, and along with them, reliable emergency measures and communication channels may suddenly stop working. Organizations with a mass notification system in place can positively impact public safety. During a pandemic crisis, organizations need to think on their feet about factors like staffing, levels of care, legal contracts, sanitation, and business continuity. Often, situations change from hour to hour. Speed and reliability matter.
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Natural Disasters

Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and unexpectedly severe inclement weather have increased in frequency over the past decade. These incidents can be jarring, and a large group of people may begin moving in one direction at the same time. If you can disseminate critical information in time, you’ll have less chance of mass panic. If a power outage occurs or text messages stop working, you’ll need a way to shepherd crowds of people to safety. An emergency notification system means that backup communication channels kick in, and people stay informed through weather alerts, federal recommendations, and more.
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Safety Breaches and Intrusions

If you have sensitive data, valuable equipment, or regulated substances on your property, you’re vulnerable to breaches. An emergency alert system can flag the command center in a different part of the building and request police and security team assistance. If someone has breached your system, whether it be in-person or online, seconds can make the difference between your entire operation being compromised, and the attack failing thanks to quick action and an agile response.
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Accidents

From chemical explosions to oil spills to airplane crashes, some accidents are impossible to predict. All the same, they can sometimes impact tens of thousands of people, all in an instant. You need to understand who is onsite, who has been impacted, and who is ready to help. Without effective mass emergency protocols and communication systems, you could make a bad situation worse.

Who Uses Mass Notification Systems?

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    Financial Services Firms
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    Hospitals and Healthcare Systems
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    Government Agencies
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    Higher Education Institutions
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    Transportation
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    Tech and Telecom Firms
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    Manufacturing
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    Energy and Utilities Operations
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What Does Life Look Like
Without Emergency Mass Notification?

Assuming you’ll somehow manage to get by in the face of a crisis is not an adequate strategy in today’s world. Without a thoroughly vetted and functional alert notification system, your business operations might be devastated the moment a crisis hits. Typically, a crisis management breakdown looks like at least one of the following:
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Communication Breakdown

Employees, contractors, community members, investors, partners, and other stakeholders feel confusion, fear, and anger. Mixed messaging drives contradictory behavior, and valuable time is wasted that could be better utilized in working toward solutions.
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Resource Misallocation

Those who are available to help either do not, or can not. Those who are asked to assist experience burnout, or are put to work on tasks that they’re not qualified to perform. Critical machines are left untouched, multiple channels are ignored, and valuable materials are used up too quickly, due to confusion and mismanaged resource assignments.
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Spiraling Complications

Problems that may have been contained instead spiral out of control. Critical events spawn additional negative instances, and mitigation is now further out of reach. More time is needed to resume operations, and business continuity is disrupted or broken. It may be harder to establish two-way communication that can save lives. The groundwork is laid for future problems, and the framework for comprehensive alert systems grows more difficult to achieve.
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Reputational Damage

Your organization, or individuals within it, could be painted with negative reputational attributes like incompetence, ineptitude, short-sightedness, greed, or fraudulence. Often, these attributes are difficult to shake and may stay with your organization long after the crisis technically ends. You could be mocked publicly on social media or in news outlets. Sponsors or partners may lose interest in associating with you, and investors may decide to divest.
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Financial Impact

Devastating financial consequences can result from critical situations that unfold over mere minutes or hours. Bottom lines are hit hard, and significant investment is often required to rebuild what was lost and publicly be held accountable for reforms and improvements. Legal ramifications may follow, and any headway may be lost to catch-up payments and damage control.

What To Look For In An
Emergency Mass Notification System

Not all mass notification systems are created equal. The best emergency alert systems feature:
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Syncing Across Multiple Devices

Whether you operate on a mobile app, tablet, laptop, desktop, or through sms text, notification solutions should go from you to wherever they are, instantly. Some users prefer desktop notifications, others prefer mobile alerts. Account for every preference.
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Customer Support

A platform that offers continual support, long after implementation, has the best chance of enabling your organization to get through a crisis and maintain public safety.
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Automated Capabilities

Auto-populate and replicate your communications in order to send messages quickly. Write a mass notification once, and let it serve as a template for future communications and alert systems.
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Customizable Emergency Management

Your needs are unique, and your critical communications should be as well. Look for a system that allows you to customize as much as you need, while still getting messages out quickly in a mass emergency.
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Platform Integrations

You may not get all of your emergency notification system needs met through just one piece of software or hardware. Reliable, scalable solutions need to easily integrate with other solutions that work throughout the entire emergency response cycle.

Mass Notification System
Do's and Dont's

DO utilize customized, multi-channel messaging.No one should ever be able to use the excuse, “I didn’t get the message.” An emergency notification system should ensure that all stakeholders receive the information they need. That means it’s going out on voice call, text message, email, push notifications mobile devices - basically any user interface available. Customize mass emergency channel preferences based on employee id, department, location, or job role.
DO make plans for offline employees.Today’s workforce is global, dispersed, and untethered to physical office locations. Your emergency communications need to account for this fact. How will you account for remote workers who are offsite? How will you account for lone workers that may not have internet or cell phone service? Being able to remotely trigger a loud alarm to alert offline employees can make all the difference. Your emergency alert systems must have multi-modal capabilities to account for every case, even if the initial investment is greater.
DO segment your teams.If every employee could access all emergency communications, there would be pandemonium. Look for an emergency alert system that allows you to easily segment by details like who is onsite, who has specialized knowledge, and who is on an overnight shift. The best emergency mass notification systems make segmenting easy and quick.
DON’T send messages without delivery analysis capabilities.Emergency alerts are time-sensitive, so what happens when someone receives the information late? You can’t control when someone sees a message, but you can control your messaging infrastructure. Leverage a technical emergency alert system that can identify individual deliveries and read receipts.
DON’T act without a way to measure and improve.Every emergency is a learning experience. Did you have enough digital signage? Was your emergency response adequate? Did employees use your mobile app for mass notification correctly? Could you have contacted emergency services faster or more efficiently? Have a plan in place to measure, analyze, and improve after the fact.
DON’T oversend emergency notifications.If you send too many emergency alerts, people may become immune to them and stop reading them. You want to save your mass notifications for the times when you truly need them. Tailor your alerting frequency based on the seriousness of the situation, and don’t abuse the privilege.

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Genasys Mass Notification Solutions

While ample mass notification systems exist, Genasys is uniquely poised to unify your critical communications at any time in the crisis response lifecycle. With both robust hardware and mass notification software solutions, Genasys can create a bespoke and integrated emergency notification system you can trust. Put the power of hardware behind the user-friendly agility of software, and supercharge your emergency alert system.
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Genasys 360X

The Genasys 360X delivers renowned, highly intelligible voice and warning siren broadcasts with uniform 360° coverage over distances up to 5.3 sq. kilometers. Genasys 360X…
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Genasys 360XL-MID

GENASYS 360XL-MID Powered by Genasys XL Driver Technology Genasys’ indoor/outdoor omni­directional emergency warning and public address system is housed in a lightweight, compact form factor.…
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Genasys 360XL

More Broadcast Range - Smaller, Lighter System Configurations Powered by Genasys' patented XL driver technology, the 360XL packs more audio output and broadcast range into…
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Genasys 360XL-MID Mobile Kit

Comprised of a Genasys 360XL-MID emitter, ruggedized carrying case power amplifier, hardened control module, all weather push-to-talk mic, tripod and other accessories, the Genasys 360XL-MID…
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Genasys 360XT

Genasys 360XT Rapidly Deployable, Mobile Public Safety Notification System During disasters and emergency situations, the ability to quickly deploy communication systems that broadcast exceptionally intelligible…
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Genasys DS-60X

Genasys DS-60X All Weather, Modular Public Safety Notification System The Genasys DS-60X incorporates Genasys' award-winning, highly intelligible voice clarity in a smaller form factor for remotely…
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Genasys DS-60XL

Genasys DS-60XL Powered by Genasys' XL Driver Technology for Greater Area Coverage The Genasys DS-60XL incorporates Genasys' award-winning, highly intelligible voice clarity in a smaller…
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SoundSaber-X

The Genasys SoundSaber-X (SS-X) is the next generation of line array mass notification speakers. The Genasys SS-X features a new lightweight, rugged, and highly efficient…
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Case Studies in Crisis Communication

Mill Valley, California Replaces Outdated Air Raid Sirens With Modern, Innovative Emergency Warning System

The deadly 2018 wildfires in Paradise, California were a wake-up call for Mill Valley. Many of the city’s residents live in narrow, wooded canyons. What would happen to them should a wildfire start in their area?

Sure, they had emergency sirens installed, but most were incapable of broadcasting intelligent notifications about the nature of the issue. There was no way to transmit critical information to mobile phones, which depend on cell towers that can fail during an outage or wildfire.

Enter Genasys. City officials equipped their area with Genasys’ LRAD voice broadcast systems and wide-ranging connectivity options. The city replaced all five decades-old siren-only installations with advanced voice/siren systems that are satellite connected and have battery backup for 72 continuous operation hours. Through these changes, the Mill Valley community could feel safer and more informed.

What do you do when existing power and communications infrastructure fails? You use a backup plan. With Genasys’ advanced waveguide technology and superior voice intelligibility, Mill Valley now has a plan, a backup plan, and several other options to get the word out in an emergency.

Mass Notification By The Numbers

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Genasys LRAD systems are in service in 72 countries around the world
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Genasys LRAD systems have been implemented across several sectors including public safety, defense, law enforcement, homeland and border security, critical infrastructure protection, fire rescue, incident management, maritime and port security, and wildlife control and preservation
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Integrated Solutions that span multiple hardware and software mobile notification channels
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LRAD systems that project sirens and audible voice messages 60° to 360° with industry-leading vocal clarity from close range to over 14 square kilometers from a single installation
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CCaaS software designed to deliver SMS, text, email, and social media messages to mobile devices in defined geographic areas
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Compatible with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (“IPAWS”) and other major emergency warning protocols

What Our Customers Say About Genasys Emergency Alert Systems

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“The great thing about this system is it’s not run off communication lines. As we’ve seen in past fires in other communities, the infrastructure burns down, so the warning systems don’t work. This is all satellite-based, so we don’t have that problem. We’re concerned about natural disasters, and we’re trying to use every tool in our toolbox to get the community prepared.”
Scott Barnes, Mill Valley, California Fire Battalion Chief
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“We’re in a city that has a lot of hazards. We need to be prepared to alert and warn our residents appropriately, effectively and efficiently.”
Jordan Vilwock, Laguna Beach Emergency Operations Coordinator
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“A key improvement over the existing system is [Genasys’] voice command capabilities. During a disaster, public safety officials can sound the siren and then give voice commands over the speaker system instructing community members on exactly what to do.”
2019 City of Newport Beach City Council Staff Report
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“Because the Genasys acoustic device can be heard inside of houses, we can inform older residents with mobility issues that all municipal resources are available through the Citizen Attention Service by calling [an emergency number].”
Oscar Oliveira, Madrid communication and local government spokesman

Other Resources

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Top Trends in Critical Communications

When critical events occur, which trends can guide your response? Here’s what you need to know to distribute clear, concise emergency alerts, maintain business continuity, and save lives.
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Mill Valley Installs LRAD

Mill Valley, CA Installs LRAD Emergency Warning Systems
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LRAD IPAWS-Compatible Emergency Warning Systems Being Installed in Puerto Rico

LRAD systems were ordered under the first phase of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) funded critical infrastructure project.
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The Role of Critical Communications in COVID-19 Pandemic Response

The public’s need for timely and accurate information during the COVID-19 and future crises requires government and emergency management agencies to reach as many people as possible. Unifying the delivery of alerts and notifications through multiple communication channels provides this crucial capability.
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