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Emergency notification: past, present and future

Alarm bellThe need for mass notification is nearly as old as human history. After all, the cave person who was effectively able to tell the rest of the clan about the big animals spotted over the next ridge? That was the person who lived to see another week.

Fortunately for those of us not adept at cave painting, the development of emergency notification solutions follows technology. In the 1960s, the emergency broadcast system (EBS) was launched to notify the masses using the very latest technologies—television and radio. By 1997 the EBS was replaced by the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which added analog, digital, terrestrial and satellite broadcasts to radio and TV.

And since then, the world has seen unparalleled catastrophes—both natural and man-made—each one illustrating a need for better emergency notification. September 11… The 2004 tsunami… Hurricane Katrina… Superstorm Sandy… The list goes on.

Yet even today, new modes of emergency notification are saving lives across the globe. The proliferation of smartphones and the accessibility afforded by the global Web are just two of the advances that have made modern emergency notification an incredibly powerful, efficient and flexible business tool.

Now it’s possible to notify any number of people at once, no matter where they are, no matter whether they are using a landline, smartphone, computer or other device. Emergency notification is no longer just about one-way broadcasts, but now encompasses full two-way conversation—where those who receive an alert can respond, indicating that they received the message, they are taking action, they need help, or anything else relevant.

Yet, clearly, emergencies are few and far between. So, although emergency notification software is typically brought into a company for use in a crisis, creative managers have quickly found ways to take advantage of its presence and use it to boost productivity in other ways. Like the HR department, for example, that used notification to share health information during the H1N1 pandemic, or the many IT teams that use notification software to automate system alerts and manage help-desk tickets.

Even more interesting is the way companies are reaching outside corporate walls, using “emergency” notification systems to talk and build relationships with customers and business partners—the energy company that sends customer notifications through voice, text and email, or the manufacturing company that uses notification to alert distributors of product recalls.

Emergency notification is ever evolving and, as you can see, it’s not just for emergencies any more. No longer just a way to alert the masses when it counts, it’s now an indispensable communication platform helping businesses everywhere enhance their relationships with customers and partners.

You’ve come a long way, cave people!

Looking for the best emergency notification system? Download the Automated Notification System RFP Template.