“May I have your attention, please…. May I have your attention, please.…” These are familiar words we’ve all heard and that call for our attention. We expect an important message. Ensuring that the right message reaches the right people is the function of an emergency communication system. Achieving that goal today often requires that the emergency communication system be integrated with other information and communication technology systems in the building, which encompass every form of technology transporting information and communication.
Informing the “masses” (e.g., people, building occupants, general public) throughout a building or facility regarding a threatening situation is what emergency communications is all about. Mass notification is part of emergency communications — it is an audio and/or visual electronic connection with the public, and its intent is to broadcast any type of emergency announcement, important message, or severe weather threat, and/or give instruction that is clear and intelligible, through a digital or analog signal distributed over a wireless or wired connection. One could run through a building alerting occupants Paul-Revere style, but a more practical and reliable means of communicating is a properly designed emergency communications system. Start by understanding how the integration will comply with applicable code and standards.
A fire alarm system and a mass notification system are both one-way emergency communications. The difference between them is this: A fire alarm system is governed to alert people specifically about a fire condition, and a mass notification system is governed to inform people about any type of emergency event (e.g., fire, active shooter alert, severe weather condition, earthquake, volcano eruption, etc.) and it can be integrated with other building technologies such as a public address (PA) system as well as other unified messaging means (phone calls, text messaging, digital signage, PC screen alerts, to name a few).
Emergency Communication: Getting the Right Message to the Right People
Systems Integration is Key for Emergency Communications