Ask the Expert (Crisis Communications)

Is it possible to both integrate and segment communications?

Yes! This is an exciting development in school communication platforms.

Integrators are physically wired to fire panels, lockdown switches or any electrical “normally open switch” for reliability and fast response. The number of switch inputs that can be monitored depends on your platform configuration.

When integrators detect changes in a switch’s physical status (e.g., a fire alarm is pulled), emergency alerts on the displays of your communications platform are instantly triggered. Detailed instructions can accompany visual displays and automated notifications to authorities may be texted or emailed.

Messages are delivered to displays in either “all-call” or “zoned” deployment. For all-call, a single emergency switch is monitored by one integrator, and a single message is created when the switch’s status changes. Your entire campus receives the same message; for instance, “Tornado warning, take shelter!”

For zoned configuration, multiple integrators are wired to monitor a single switch and the platform triggers different messages when the switch’s status changes. Integrators are assigned to groups of displays, allowing messages to be tailored for particular groups (zones) even if the alerts are triggered by the same alarm. For example, during a fire, all alerts might display “Fire emergency!” but the instructions may be “Exit Door A” for one zone and “Exit Door B” for another.

For routine messaging, communications platforms can deliver tailored daily messages.

Zoned messaging delivers more relevant communications, especially in emergencies. Schools are rightfully giving more thought to granular evacuation protocols, and clear and instant communications are at their core.

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Fred Bezat is product manager at American Time, a manufacturer of integrated, custom timekeeping and notification systems. Contact him at fbezat@atsclock.com or 877/666-1208.

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