Notifier Using Mass Notification Systems to Enhance Campus Safety

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Using Mass Notification Systems to Enhance Campus Safety sprawling university campuses create a pleasant environment those who work or study on the grounds At the same time these require careful oversight by campus administrators to offset the of potential safety issues they create safety and security may be threatened by any number of natu and manmade disasters such as fires floods chemical accidents storms earthquakes or malicious intruders Although these are rare they can be absolutely devastating if the school is sufficiently prepared for these emergency scenarios As the federal emergency preparedness website states encouraged to regularly review update and exercise their emer plans a thorough campus safety response plan requires several including collaboration among authorities adherence to and a highly effective emergency communications system ECS also known as a mass notification system MNS This paper focuses three main topics the evolution of mass notification needs and solutions building and life safety code requirements for ECS identifying the best ECS solution for your campus starting with a thorough risk analysis function and benefits of a combined fire alarm and ECS solution Mass Notification Has Evolved notification has military roots having been created by the U S of Defense DoD as part of a Unified Facilities Criteria 4 021 01 document The UFC sets guidelines for the design and maintenance of these systems which are required on DoD and U S military properties The most basic mass notification dates back to air raid sirens used during World War II these solutions could make only one loud sound to indicate some kind imminent danger impetus for creating more flexible MNS solutions was a deadly ter attack on Iraq Khobar Towers a facility that housed thousands U S and allied troops during the first Iraq War A group of terrorists a gasoline truck filled with explosives near the complex and left to detonate Rooftop lookouts spotted the truck and quickly identified as a bomb but they were forced to go door to door to warn resi as they had no way to warn the entire building all at once The resulted in 19 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries a report issued about the attack Secretary of Defense William Cohen the term mass notification coining a new phrase notifica system is called out in the UFC document and therefore a phrase most often when referring to DoD facilities such as military The same technology implemented on commercial properties as K 12 and university college campuses is commonly known as communications system UFC now defines mass notification as capability to provide information to all building occupants or personnel in the im vicinity of a building during emergency situations To reduce risk of mass casualties there must be a timely means to notify occupants of threats and what should be done in response to threats Prerecorded and live voice emergency messages are by this UFC to provide this capability that widespread threats could endanger non military fire alarm manufacturers began building voice communications their products The early versions of ECS solutions typically allowed only one recorded message that played everywhere in a facility best in class ECS solutions combine fire alarm and mass noti features and are flexible with the ability to play different mes to different parts of a facility and campus in real time to deliver targeted and specific warnings to those in danger in Life Safety Technology ECS solutions have hit the market over the past decade cre a crowded marketplace and making it more difficult for institu to identify what product is best suited to their needs A number of will impact which system a school will choose to deploy before other considerations are made however these institutions must which safety codes and specifications are required by law Safety Codes Say about ECS events such as the Virginia Tech attack and severe weather in like Superstorm Sandy battered colleges up and down east coast raised awareness of ECS for non military proper The National Fire Protection Association NFPA recommends that utilize a fire alarm system as the backbone of an ECS with critical features baked into the product The standards for fire and ECS performance installation testing and maintenance are in Chapter 24 of the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Signaling codes also specify that organizations should take a multi approach to ECS which means leveraging features like indoor outdoor voice distributed recipient mass notification and LED with the goal of quickly reaching as many people as pos To service this need distributed local operator consoles LOCs typically tied to the fire alarm ECS network and placed throughout facility or campus to provide authorized users a faster means for live and prerecorded voice announcements within buildings via speakers and or outside of buildings through giant voice systems warnings via digital signage and text or social media messages messages are effective because they pop up as notifications on that are tough to miss says NOTIFIER Product Manager Dan media is a good tool too considering the common use smartphones by students and staff However cell service can be because the network is flooded with emergency calls if you talking about the younger generation they may be more to see a text message or look at Twitter than to open an email Corbett added that devices like LED signage social media and text are also effective in loud areas sports or music are hearing an audio message may be difficult Giant outdoor to cover large geographic areas outside of buildings also be effective based on the size of the complex serve as more than a fire alarm voice system to com on other threats fire the NFPA states personnel should able to effect message initiation over the MNS from either a central station or alternate backup control station Where clusters of exist one or more regional control stations might also exer control The code requires that the MNS should offer a of scripted responses to various emergency events that would easily customizable to meet the needs of the individual customer in Life Safety Technology from UFC and NFPA regulations other codes and standards for solutions that should be considered are Americans with Disability Act ADA OSHA 1910.165 Employee Alarm Systems Outdoor Public Alerting Systems FEMA Guide International Building Code Corbett explains when taken together meeting all of these codes is difficult without a solution offering a wide range of features robust flexibility are basic elements of an ECS that are mandated by code be with system survivability which means it remains operational a portion of the system goes down he explained ECS must be tested and maintained to standards and it must be which means that if any component of the system goes or is tampered with a central monitoring station is alerted imme System back up power is also required Lastly ECS messages be intelligible meaning the communications must be able to be and clearly understood the college or university understands the codes it must adhere the institution should focus on conducting a risk analysis Evaluat risk ensures the school resources are properly allocated and the effective ECS solution s is chosen giving the institution the best possible to protect itself against serious threats Analysis Where to Start first step in completing a risk analysis is to gather all relevant For most campuses this group would include Campus security officials Local first responders and other emergency management officials Facility owner s board of directors Facilities maintenance staff Insurance company representative Fire protection design professional FPE Fire alarm and security integrator Other parties typically involved with facility design operations and or emergency response those team members are assembled they mus

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