Ask Don: Coming on board with a mass notification system

Don Hall, ECN's Director of Government Relations
Don Hall, ECN’s Director of Government Relations

Last week, Don Hall, ECN’s Director of Government Relations was asked by Rick of the Brighton Fire Department in Rochester, NY, “How do I get started?” He was referring to coming on board with a mass notification system. Hall replied:

That’s a very good question and I applaud you for reaching out for initiating guidance. So many agencies jump into the search for a mass notification system without an outline or idea of what they want or need. The search can be very confusing without some prior knowledge so you are already headed in the right direction.

It sounds as if you have taken the lead in this concept, which is the first step, appoint a project manager. As the project manager, I would begin to identify a working group to support me and to include the different aspects, views and opinions (keep the group small and manageable). If other agencies will be sharing the use of the system and contributing to the funding solution, I would include them in the planning group as well.

The first agenda items to consider are, “What do we need a mass notification system to do for us and how do we plan to use it?” “Do we only need to identify our internal staff and responders or will we have cause to notify the public?” The next question would be, “What forms of notification will we need to deliver our messages?”  (Phone, Text, Email, Social Media, IPAWS, Etc.).  Put as much as you can about your needs and expectations on paper for your initial outreach efforts. It would also be a good idea while you are in the process to do some research on mass notification systems in general to also assist in the planning stage and so you know what to expect from  a service provider.

Another important factor to consider from the beginning is what is the funding source and how much can be allotted to this project annually? Often times the balance of what you want and what you have to spend on it has a lot to do with the direction of the project from the start, so it’s important to get that figured out in the beginning as well. Then, contact the Emergency Communications Network office, 866-939-0911 to speak to an account representative for your area to set up a demo of the system.

Anyone looking for further information on implementing a mass notification system for their jurisdiction, please feel free to contact Hall at 866-939-0911 x 1225 or click here to email your question.

ECN opened up the opportunity for you to connect with Don Hall. Hall has spent more than 40 years in public safety so his emergency management experience makes him ideal for helping our current clients, potential customers and the emergency management community to interact with regarding the need and use of mass notification systems for state and local governments.

This platform was created to make your questions for Hall, heard. If you have anything you would like to ask him please click here to email your question and he will address your question directly, right here in our “Ask Don” blog.