Using Mass Notification

Installing a system at sporting and event complexes that benefit attendees

Event venues and sporting complexes pose unique security and communication challenges. Numerous factors, including crowd size, whether the event is indoors or outdoors and what time of day the event is taking place all impact how a safety plan is developed.

Effective Communication

Officials need to be prepared for large groups of people who will only be on their premises for a short period of time. Due to the attendance size and other distractions caused by whatever event people have come to see, it can be difficult to effectively communicate the proper actions people should take in the event of an emergency. Communications need to be quick and clear to provide useful information that attendees pay attention to and take action from.

Any kind of facility and event whether large or small, needs to be prepared to communicate safety instructions for the same kind of emergency situations any organization may face, including active shooters, fire, medical emergencies and other potentially dangerous incidents. A mass notification system can help venues plan for these kinds of incidents with prebuilt message templates that simultaneously deliver safety information in a variety of formats to a wide range of devices. This helps cut down on response time and goes a long way to making sure everyone is aware of what the situation is and what they should be doing.

This article will explain how different devices can integrate with a mass notification system to share emergency alerts throughout an event venue or sporting complex.

Connecting to Digital Signage

Event venues and sporting complexes utilize digital signage to provide enhanced visual assistance for attendees to see what is happening, but they can also be used to communicate safety messages. Jumbotrons, scoreboards, and signage in concourses can all be leveraged to share emergency notifications with clear visuals and messaging.

But how does that integration happen?

An RSS feed often provides a means for a mass notification system to integrate with digital signage and triggers alerts. The system monitors that feed for certain key phrases or commands and then automatically broadcasts an emergency message with the details from the RSS. This offers a simple and effective way to quickly broadcast emergency alerts throughout a stadium in a way that grabs people’s attention.

Leveraging IP Speakers

Visual alerts are an important element of any notification plan, but audio is just as important. Most venues will be equipped with state-of-theart sound systems to ensure large crowds can hear what is happening.

Integrating these with a mass notification system can offer an intrusive way to capture people’s attention and offer information about an event taking place. Since sound systems often have a greater reach than digital signage, having IP speakers be a part of a venue’s emergency communication plan is a must.

Mobile Opt-In Alerts

In addition to broadcasting safety instructions, digital signage and IP speakers can also be used to relay information for how attendees can sign up to receive notifications on their mobile phones. Language for these postings can be displayed around the stadium and should be straightforward. For example:

“To receive safety notifications during the event, text #safety to 555-555-5555.”

This offers attendees a simple way to receive notifications on their own devices, and it’s also easy for security officials to manage. Administrators of the mass notification system can configure lists for each event the venue hosts. Lists can be built throughout the event as people opt-in to receive alerts, and then can be set to expire once the event has ended. This can also be used to thank attendees for coming once the event concludes and encourage them to get home safely.

When it comes to emergency communication, every channel needs to be leveraged. Being able to utilize on-premises and mobile devices makes it much more likely everyone receives the information they need to stay safe.

Critical Event Management

Of course, in some instances, it may not be necessary to alert the entire venue about an emergency taking place. You may only want security personnel or higher level management to be aware and coordinate an appropriate response using critical event management tools and practices. In that case a mass notification system can provide assistance in two ways. The first is by designating groups and zones. Being able to section off certain areas of a venue, such as security and management offices, helps deliver notifications to the right audience. The other way is through integration with devices that won’t broadcast to an entire venue. Desk phones, desktop computers, two-way radios can all be used to deliver notifications on a smaller scale than the methods we’ve already mentioned.

Consider these options for mass notification to make sure the right people get the right message to stay out of harm’s way during events and at sporting complexes.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Security Today.

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