How else will you quickly reach your residents with warnings or instructions during a pending storm? An active shooter scenario? A flash flood across a major highway?
Once a system is purchased, the key to success? Implementation. A well-considered implementation will lay the foundation for how effectively the system will operate during a crisis. Check out these five pro tips for a smooth and stellar implementation.
Before starting with any notification solution, make sure to develop a standardized, consistent way of naming the files that will be part of the database. A naming convention not only makes it easier to identify files, it also makes it much easier to extract data later for research and analysis. This way everyone on the team is following the same language when identifying a contact group, saved message file, shape files and other items that can be used to create a complete message by system administrators and users. By creating a code of sorts for all messages, contacts, and inputs your organization is also generating valuable data. The data can later be analyzed and evaluated to pull survey information for your research purposes.
To ensure that all system administrators understand how to use the notification system, you need to provide extensive training. This training should never be viewed as a one-time deal. You will need to continually train and upgrade your team’s skills as changes are made within the system or with internal uses. Plan to have monthly or bi-monthly refresher courses for your team and schedule general notifications to go out on a regular basis as well. This will make your community more familiar with where their notifications will be coming from in the event of an actual crisis.
More importantly, since a mass notification solution tends to be a tool used only in emergencies, it can be easy for your skill set to get rusty. Training regularly creates familiarity, which is key to implementing the notification system in a true emergency. It also gives your team the chance to identify any missing or weak links in your emergency messaging system.
Once implementation is complete, how involved will your mass notification vendor’s client support staff be? Having a support team to back you up is another important aspect of these solutions. If your team is unable to get the system up and running, you need a sound customer service solution on your side. As you consider the specific notification system your organization will opt for, be sure to understand how client support will work for you and any additional costs vendors may charge for these services.
Along with client support and training, consider how easy it will be to get your mass notification system ready to go. What is the administrative burden? Will your IT department be equipped to handle implementation of the system? Then you have to consider the maintenance and upgrades to the system.
Choose a notification system that your agency can implement without putting great strains on your current operations. Also, get opinions and guidance from other departments that may have had good or bad experiences with notification solution options.
You want to be sure your vendor is truly working for you and taking on as much implementation management as you need to create a smooth and stable process.
For the implementation process, you need to have the right team in place. This includes your admins who are responsible for sending mass notifications and geo-targeting recipients.
However, as part of the implementation, you also need to include your community in the process. Get leaders involved in promoting the system so that residents are aware of the notification process and how it will be used in the community, especially during an emergency. Having a notification solution that lets you easily update opt-in data is essential to implementation. After all, how can you expect to get your messages out to your community if no one knows about the system?
Getting the right people involved early will add up to a successful implementation and an effective communication program to get word out to the right people at the right time when crisis hits.
You’ve put in the groundwork, done your research and are finally ready to purchase a mass notification system. So, now what? Without the attention and understanding from your residents, your emergency alerts may not be as effective as you hope.Download The Article