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How to develop the right alert notification strategy in schools

How to develop the right alert notification strategy in schools
Industry professionals agree that school authorities should look towards a variety of methods to achieve the best possible emergency notification system. This should include not just high-end technology, but also traditional forms of communication.
Industry professionals agree that school authorities should look towards a variety of methods to achieve the best possible emergency notification system. This should include not just high-end technology, but also traditional forms of communication.
 
In a report, Gary Margolis and Steven Healy, from Margolis Healy and Associates explained the right method in higher education institutions. In k12 schools, the approach shouldn’t be too different.
 
At its basic level, the emergency notification service should be able to disseminate information to the entire campus at the quickest pace through multiple channels. It should reach students, faculty and other staff through media including voice messages, emails, and short message services (SMS). However, while selecting a technology, careful consideration should be given to its limitations. For example, SMS is primarily designed to be a one-to-one messaging system, not one-to-many. While using it for mass messaging, such limits are tested and this could increase the margin for error.
 
Second, the system should have the capacity to deliver messages in a timely manner.
 
“For instance, the backend infrastructure that requires aggregators and other transmission support protocols must be examined to ensure that the service providers have eliminated choke points,” pointed out Margolis and Healy in their report. “The service provider may have done what was needed to ensure that adequate servers can send parallel messages through enough phone lines, however, none of this will matter if the university has only one pathway through which the phone company can communicate to the desired geographic area. When telephone lines are destroyed, delivery is thwarted.”
 
They noted that having a system that can send 20,000 text messages during a critical event is only effective if it can do so in seconds, not hours. If the service provider does not have the capacity via its own hardware or service level agreements (SLAs) with contracted support, then the system could fail. To ensure that things work as per plan, a comprehensive test of the system should be conducted every two years or more.
 
Care must be taken to ensure data maintenance as educational institutions often have to deal with large volumes of records. To ensure the right message reaches the right person, the records have to be accurate and up to date.
 
The system should also have redundant capabilities in all power interconnects. Vendors should ensure the emergency notification systems are provided clean power sources and backups. Additionally, there must be a provision to evaluate how the solution performs.
 
When it comes to selecting vendors, the institutions must ensure that that they choose one that can provide 24/7 support. The contractual relationship should also include training, customer service and technical assistance.
 
The last requirement that Margolis and Healy laid out is the option for institution authorities to send notifications regardless of where they are located. Communication should not be hampered just because the right person is not in the campus.
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