THE MAGAZINE

Are Evacuation Practices Flawed?

By Megan Gates

Amerilert can also be used for other communications to the employee base—to make other requests, ask other questions—not necessarily only for emergencies. “The technology is incredibly powerful– but what’s equally important is defining when to use Amerilert…if there’s a preventable situation, that’s when you want to use it—define the line of using a mass alert,” Bagdasarian says.

Nater also highlighted Everbridge Mass Notification, a mass notification and alert system from Everbridge of Glendale, California. This system cycles through every form of communication until it reaches the intended recipients, he said. Everbridge allows users to send notifications to individuals or groups, using lists, locations, and visual intelligence. The notification system functions similarly to Amerilert, allowing administrators to create contact groups and initiate alert notifications.

The alert is pushed out to all of the employees’ contact numbers, with “message escalation” following a preference order chosen by the employee. These alerts are pushed out until employees confirm that they’ve received the alert. The system also automatically publishes the organization’s specified communication to designated Web sites, Intranet sites, internal systems, and social media to ensure that everyone receives the alert in some format.

Once employees receive an alert, they can respond to let their administrator know that they received the alert, that they’re taking the proper precautions, and that they’re safe. The system also allows feedback through RSS feeds and social media networks.

These types of notification systems help eliminate the need for rallying points in case of an evacuation, which avoids the potential vulnerability to a secondary attack that a pre-announced or highly visible assembly point can create.

Security professionals just need to think creatively. “All it takes is software, and it’s out there,” Nater said. “We just have to change our ways.”

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