In our over-connected world, there are still plenty of people who say, “I knew nothing about that.” That’s why it is so enticing to use a mass notification system to reach a mass audience with messages that fall in the “important”, but not necessarily “urgent” category. When officials decide to send out a non-emergency notification on a system that was designed and marketed for emergency communications only, it can spark debate regarding the proper use of the technology. A recent case in Adams County, CO where the Sheriff’s Department used their emergency notification system to inform citizens of an upcoming community meeting drew both positive and negative feedback. One woman noted that she was frightened when she received the notification since she assumed that signaled an impending crisis. Others complained that the sheriff was using the system to further his personal political agenda.
Notification System Boundaries
When an organization or government agency has invested in a state-of-the-art tool that can help them achieve a communication goal, it’s easy to see how the conversation begins regarding using that tool for communications broader than the original scope of emergency management. In fact, this conversation is happening across the country as organizations work to troubleshoot communication gaps. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when deciding what messages are in or out of scope for an emergency notification system, including:
- Oversaturation: Will too many non-urgent messages dilute the attention of recipients when an emergency message goes out?
- Expectations: Did your contact list understand your group might use the system for non-urgent messages from time to time? If not, is it necessary to inform them of the change in policy?
- Framework: Does your organization have a policy that outlines when, how and who will be in charge of determining when a non-urgent message goes out?
Who Defines Important
MissionMode believes there are many routine incidents where use of an emergency notification system can be appropriate. However, every notification system needs to have a pre-defined protocol and a committee of decision-makers established who will determine what messages get sent out and what those messages say. Oversaturation is a serious concern, so in most cases, the decision-makers limit both the number and breadth of distribution of non-urgent messages and have specific standards for how they define if a message is important enough to merit emergency distribution.
How to Use This Information
As your comfort level with mass notification increases, most likely the conversation about expanding the use of your emergency notification system to non-urgent messages will as well. The MissionMode team would be happy to help your organization navigate the pros and cons of such a decision.
MissionMode’s smarter mass notification and incident management applications enable organizations to take control of crises, and reduce the time and cost of the response. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a demonstration.