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Delivering a mass notification when services are down

Alarm bellWith hurricane season in full swing, it’s time to once again prepare for the worst by remembering the past.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and in late October we’ll see the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Together, as the top two most destructive storms in US history, they’re responsible for nearly 2000 deaths and more than $175 billion in damages.

Sandy in particular brought with her many lessons—not the least of which being how to communicate when the business-as-usual is no longer usual.

Many in the thick of the floods, outages, high winds and general disruption caused by Sandy found themselves more able to make contact with people across the country than those on the same block—good news for those with family in California, but less than ideal for local office workers looking for direction from management.

Sandy taught us that even with mass notification software in your toolbox, it can be exceedingly difficult to deliver important information during a crisis when large chunks of local infrastructure are out of commission.

One smart emergency management team came up with an innovative solution before Sandy made land and were rewarded for their foresight. Using their mass notification system they set up a bulletin board well in advance, and as Hurricane Sandy approached, they promoted the bulletin board number widely to employees.

When the storm hit, employees who may not have been able to receive alerts from the usual mass notification system as the storm raged knew exactly where to go for information.

During the crisis, the team did their part by regularly updating messages to the board so employees could check in at any time and get the very latest news and status.

The system worked beautifully—employees later reported they found it to be an important information source, both through the storm and during the disaster recovery phase.

The company plans to continue sending alerts and updates by phone, email and SMS as they have in the past, but now intends to make this kind of bulletin board a standard part of their mass notification strategy in the future

Interested in finding the best mass notification system? Download the Automated Notification System RFP Template.