Using Campus Safety Apps for Alert Notifications

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Using campus safety apps for alert notifications is a practical way to quickly alert large number of students to the risk of danger simultaneously.

There are many different campus safety apps for alert notifications that integrate with campus alert notification networks to give alert students to the risk of danger through multiple channels of communication. Typically the multiple channels of communication include SMS text, email, voice broadcasts and digital signage (or public address audible alarms).

Although most campus safety apps for alert notifications are adequate to perform their role, there are four key features notification networks should include in order to maximize the amount of information available to students and prevent unnecessary concerns. The four key features are multi-lingual support, short and long form messaging, two-way communication and database segregation.

Multi-Lingual Campus Safety Apps for Alert Notifications

Most non-native students attending American colleges have a good understanding of English. However, in times of an emergency, their knowledge of key words or colloquialisms may be forgotten due to the nature of events happening around them. It has been well-chronicled that emotive events can lead to memory loss and that “language shock” can occur in disturbing or confusing circumstances.

For this reason, it is advisable to have multi-lingual campus safety apps for alert notifications that allow students to select in what language they would prefer to receive emergency notifications. Then, when system administrators send out emergency notifications, the app translates the notification from English to the language of the student´s choice. It is a relatively simple feature, but it could save lives.

The Benefit of Short and Long Form Messaging

As the primary channel of communication used by campus safety apps for alert notifications is SMS messaging, emergency notifications have to be limited to 160 characters. The brevity of the message is often not enough to communicate everything a system administrator wants to convey, but it is impractical to send emergency notifications in more than one SMS.

Therefore it is useful to have a notification network through which system administrators can send short form messages via SMS and simultaneously send long form messages via email. In this way students can be alerted to the risk of danger by SMS and see further information such as the recommended route of escape via their smartphone email facility.

Two-Way Communication Helps Raise Situational Awareness

One of the most effective features of campus safety apps for alert notifications in terms of incident control is two-way communication. By being able to communicate with students caught up in the emergency, incident controllers get a better idea of what is happening on the ground due to students being able to send images and video via the app.

Two-way communication is also important when students have been injured and require medical attention, or when one route of escape has been closed and another opened. Two-way communication can also be used by students to inform incident controllers they have reached a place of safety so that first responders are not sent into a dangerous situation unnecessarily.

Database Segregation Can Prevent Unnecessary Concerns

The ability to segregate a database by location, role or other characteristic can have multiple benefits. The primary benefit is that, if an emergency situation is localized - such as a fire in a campus building - not every student in the college database has to be notified of the emergency. This not only prevents unnecessary concerns, but also minimizes disruption.

If the database is also segregated by role, system administrators can send a request to those with medical training or a CERT qualification to attend the scene, assist during the emergency and mitigate its consequences. With this feature, fewer students are seeking shelter from the incident, emergency situations are easier to control, and help is provided quicker to those most in need of assistance.

These key features of campus safety apps for alert notifications can help save resources, save time and save lives.