When you’re thinking about adopting an emergency notification system, you need a platform that is right for your business.
This is a system you will turn in the worst-case scenarios. One whose tools you will rely on to communicate in high-pressure situations where employee and public safety are at risk, the stakes are high.
In choosing your emergency notification system, you want to make the right decision. To do this, you need to be aware of the key features required in a leading software platform. To help you in this process, we have compiled the top 15 emergency notification system features.
Instead of simply relying upon our own expertise and opinions, we’ve taken a research-driven approach to provide you with the best possible guidance. We’ve tracked down 8 articles created by our competitors, collected together all the features listed and then ordered them based on how many times they appeared.
Here’s what we found, the top 15 emergency notification features as recommended by providers:
The primary function of an emergency notification system is communication. So, it’s unsurprising that multichannel communication is the number one feature recommended by providers.
When an emergency occurs, you want to notify everyone affected by the situation. To ensure their safety, gather information, and prompt them into action to resolve the emergency. The ability to send your emergency alerts through multiple channels will help improve awareness, increasing the number of people receiving and reading your messages.
Multichannel communications improve awareness of emergency alerts by:
You want emergency alerting software that supports the selection of multiple communication channels, including:
When every second counts, simple to use emergency notification software lets you send your critical message or warning faster with improved clarity. Ensuring those in harm’s way are well-informed and can be made safe sooner, minimising risk.
Delivering an emergency notification system that is easy to use is a feature of paramount importance for providers, featured in 6 of the 8 articles we read.
Here at Sentinel, we understand making a tool simple to use is almost as important as the functionality it provides. An emergency notification system that delivers ease-of-use will:
While not part of the platform itself, the quality of customer support accompanying your emergency notification system is a key feature. Even with the most intuitive platform, you will eventually want and require customer support. Initial system configuration and implementation is typically the time when you will need the most support.
The great news for you is that 6 out of 8 providers agree, highlighting customer support among their recommended top emergency notification system features. Although there are some differing opinions of what constitutes high-quality customer support, most providers agree that:
If you’re ever enquiring about customer support, these are the questions you will want to present to your provider:
Emergency situations won’t always occur when you’re in the office, and they could compromise your local network and technology systems. In these situations, you still need access to your emergency notification system to send alerts. This is where a mobile application comes in.
An enterprise-grade app will extend the functionality of your emergency notification system to mobile devices for both the admin and end-users.
For administrators, it will:
For end-users, it will:
Top of the range enterprise mobile app solutions for your emergency notification system can also unlock additional features like:
Rounding off the top 5 features for emergency notification systems is availability. As referenced by the majority of providers, this is a feature that appears synonymous with a cloud deployment model.
The best emergency notification system is one that is always available. A platform that remains both accessible and operational in worst-case scenarios. Allowing you to always send emergency alerts to ensure the safety of your employees and the public. To do this, your chosen system must be resilient to power and network outages, as well as complete internal system failures.
The most effective way to provide true availability for your emergency notification software is through a cloud deployment model. A cloud-based platform will:
In emergency and disaster situations, the inbound flow of information can be just as important as the mass alerts sent out. Making two-way messaging a key component in any effective emergency notification software solution.
The ability for employees and the public to respond to alerts using SMS or email channels enhances the flow of information, helping to improve response efforts. Staff and stakeholders can mark themselves safe, request additional assistance, or provide invaluable information to crisis response teams, helping you make smarter business decisions and save time.
To assess the effectiveness of your emergency notification system and the communications sent, you need the ability to track key metrics and create detailed reports. Only through post-event analysis can unlock the insights needed to improve your platform usage and response efforts in future crisis events.
Half of the emergency notification system providers researched highlighted reporting and analytics as a key platform feature. When looking at reporting and analytics, you will want functionality that lets you:
The ability to integrate your emergency notification system with existing tools and technology will offer extended capabilities. It will simplify day-to-day management and ensure the long-term success of your solution. It also helps fold your ENS into day-to-day use where employees are already engaging in a meaningful way on a regular basis.
Integrations come in many shapes and sizes, from pre-built integrations that allow simple synchronisation, to API connections that support advanced read and write capabilities. To get the most out of your emergency mass alerting platform, you want a solution offers both.
Ideally, the platform will integrate with your HR system or software like Active Directory. This ensures the contact details in your emergency notification platform are always up-to-date. Any details added, updated, or removed in your HR system can be automatically synced across.
The ability to integrate with other communication tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype, and Office 365 also open up new emergency alerting channels. Giving you yet another way to connect with employees and key stakeholders and increase reach.
Many of the crises that will afflict your organisation or institution will be concentrated on a specific location. Geofencing functionality in an emergency notification system lets you draw a virtual fence over a specific area on a map and send messages to all employees within the fenced area.
Geofencing can be used for targetting during natural disasters, bomb threats, hazardous spills, riots, protests, and power outages. It is a feature however that has its limitations and create friction in its implementation, and as a result, it’s not one we choose to offer in our Sentinel platform.
Adoption of the feature by the wider business is one of the biggest issues with geofencing. Given the option, most employees do not wish to have their devices and geographic location tracked by their employers. Even if the unpopular decision is made to track company devices, you can’t be certain the devices employees are assigned are on their person.
Only messaging based on geographic location can also exclude employees from receiving critical information. An end-user could be travelling back into a location with an active alert in place, but they will be completely unaware having been excluded from the initial group.
As an alternative to geofencing, Sentinel uses multiple group configurations to effectively update teams - based on their general location or role within an organisation. This means that users feel comfortable that they’re not being tracked, but always kept up to date in a crisis - no matter where they might be at any given time.
Contact groups are a key element in ensuring your emergency communications are received by the right people, at the right time, during dangerous situations.
The ability to create pre-defined groups in your emergency notification system gives you complete control in message targetting to select audiences. Protecting sensitive information and preventing misinformation. It also plays a critical role in accelerating the process of sending emergency mass alerts. Speed of communication is a benefit that cannot be underestimated when lives are at stake.
The following are key factors that will influence your need for contact groups:
When an emergency unfolds, the last thing you need is to be creating an alert from scratch. This is a high-pressure situation, where misinformation or a delay in crafting the message could have significant consequences.
This makes functionality to host, configure and send message templates a feature of significant importance. Emergency notification platform providers agree a series of pre-prepared message templates will minimise your risk. Creating the basis for quick, clear, accurate communications in response to emergency events.
Message templates bring significant benefits:
Speed is arguably one of the most important factors in emergency response, it can mean the difference between life and death.
It surprised us to only see three providers highlight speed as a key feature in emergency notification software. Where it was mentioned, those providers marked it out as their number one feature. A sentiment we can agree with.
Speed in an emergency notification system is not an abstract feature. It can be defined and achieved as a combination of the following platform functionality:
Considering the purpose of emergency mass notification systems and the sensitive data they contain, it’s surprising to see security rarely considered as a key feature.
Your platform will be home to highly sensitive information like emergency response plans and the personal details of all employees, stakeholders, partners, customers, and even members of the public. You need a solution that meets the following enterprise-level security protocols:
If you’re working within a global organisation, you want mass alerting software that minimises the instances in which language becomes a barrier to emergency communications.
Interestingly, this is not a feature commonly found in emergency notification systems. While all platforms will let you send emergency notifications in your native language, very few solutions provide the functionality to assist multi-language communications.
Our Sentinel Hotline tool is one of the few platforms supporting multi-language functionality. The system lets you create an automated telephone hotline to answer inbound calls and deliver incident updates in emergency situations. You simply type in your emergency update, the system then converts it from text to speech and seamlessly translates it into 20+ available languages.
During emergency situations, your crisis team needs a secure communication space to connect, exchange information, coordinate response efforts and make key decisions. Teleconferencing provides an ideal solution, offering a space for instant real-time voice communication that participants can join from different locations, on a range of devices.
A leading emergency notification system will offer you functionality beyond simple mass alerting. This includes the ability to launch secure instant teleconferences to connect your crisis teams. Ideally, supporting functionality to:
There were a range of emergency notification platform features mentioned by providers that didn't make the to 15. This doesn't mean they they can't offer you significant benefits in enhancing you communication and improving your emergency response. So, here they are in no particular order:
For reference, below are the articles and guides created by our competitors used to build this new comprehensive guide: