Turning Phone Into Broadcaster

By Caron Carlson  |  Posted 2004-11-29

Enterprise communications systems are no longer used simply as tools of convenience and sound business practice but increasingly as crisis-management programs as well. The mass notification industry is growing as more organizations implement emergency calling networks for their employees, partners and affiliates.

Government agencies, schools and transport companies are on the forefront of the mass notification trend to alert employees and parents of emergencies and response plans. Laguna Hills High School in Mission Viejo, Calif., plans to have an emergency message system from National Notification Network Inc. in place by years end.

The 3N system, a subscription-based offering administered via the Web, can deliver customized messages to tens of thousands of recipients instantly. 3N can broadcast messages to any standard device, including wire-line phones, cell phones, pagers and PDAs, as well as via a variety of messaging applications, including e-mail and instant messaging. The company serves as an ASP (application service provider), and subscribers only need to buy a telephone and Internet access.

"This is a means of school safety," said Ed Adams, principal at Laguna Hills High School. "We can make one phone call, and within 5 minutes our 1,900 students are reached."

Schools face a variety of potential emergencies, including natural disasters, bomb threats and reports of runaway children, Adams said. "Well get a phone call, and were on the lookout for them immediately," he said.

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3N offers several notification packages, including the basic package purchased by the high school, which costs about $4 per user annually in addition to an initial setup and training charge. The package lets the school contact two individuals per student. During an emergency, the system can be set up to continue calling until it receives a confirmation from a recipient.

Financial institutions are using emergency notification systems to alert users of network outages, and manufacturers are using them to advise distributors of product recalls, said 3N officials in Glendale, Calif.

At Laguna Hills High School, Adams plans to use the 3N system to notify parents of school activities, standardized test schedules and good study practices.

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