By identifying the basic features you need in a good notification system, you can go into the process with a clear vision of your goals. Read on for a buyer’s guide to finding the best mass notification solution for your agency.
Your end goal with a mass notification system is to be able to protect your community. So it only makes sense to start by thinking about your most important audience – the people out there who need information in an emergency.
Will they need all the bells and whistles that are featured in some emergency notification systems? Do other organizations in the community already provide some high-quality notifications for emergencies? Can you successfully implement a notification solution that only includes basic functions?
Asking these questions up front will benefit you in the long run. Going through the sales process can become overwhelming with options, but only you will know what communication gaps your community needs to address.
Cybersecurity is always a priority when dealing with digital communications. Look for a notification service provider that requires layers of administrative passcodes in order to send critical alerts. Ask vendors for their security best practices, information security policies, and evidence that rules and regulations of database management and security are being followed.
Understanding the benefits of mass notification for government cybersecurity is another important step you can take during the sales cycle as a value add for purchasing a solution.
When sending out notifications, you have to consider how your target audiences consume information. Recent studies have shown that a majority of people get information directly from their mobile devices. The ability to send push notifications through a mobile app is an important feature to look for to reach residents effectively. Another way to make messages more effective is to send an alert with a voice recording from a known official in the area, such as the mayor or the sheriff. Sending audio from someone in a leadership role evokes attention and authenticity from the audience. Recipients believe the message alerts are true and are more willing to follow the next steps. These capabilities are also important to many agencies.
You can also find mass notification solutions that provide alerts in a variety of languages. For diverse communities, this is instrumental to communicate with the most individuals. Take OnSolve, for example, which offers a mass notification solution that has a user interface featuring 29 different languages for users.
You also need to be able to geo-fence your message alerts. This allows you to send out messages to individuals within a certain boundary as determined by GPS or given location. Those people who are physically located within a geographical area and affected by an emergency will be notified, and not the rest of the region.
It’s true that mass notification solutions for communities can sometimes overlook another key group. The individuals working within your organization must also be able to communicate efficiently and securely. If your internal groups are not well informed, it becomes much more difficult to activate teams and put response plans in motion.
Shop for solutions that enable you to send out desktop alerts, two-way notifications, and other features that work best for internal alerts.
Bottom line, if your system administrators cannot use the mass notification system easily, then the system will not be effective. The ultimate mission is to provide reliable and fast communications when needed. The easier it is to operate the system, the better it is for communities and emergency response managers. You shouldn’t need an advanced technology degree in order to send out alerts quickly. Expect to be able to conduct a test run or trial of the mass notification product before committing to ensure it is easy to operate.
If your mass notification system malfunctions, gets hacked, or goes on the fritz, who are you going to call? Can you contact the dealer or manufacturer of the system and get assistance? What are the hours of client support services? Is client support an additional charge for you?
The ability to access customer service when you need it for your organization’s mass notification solution is paramount in the selection process. You want to choose a company to work with that will offer the most conclusive client support services. Being able to contact someone in the face of technical failure can make all the difference.
Deciding on a mass notification system vendor can be overwhelming. Whether you are looking to replace a current system, re-evaluating what is in the market, or deciding on a vendor for the first time, it may seem challenging to narrow down the choices.Download The Article