How Do You Match Your Emergency Alerting Needs to the Confusing Array of Technology Options Available?

A careful needs analysis is the best start for making the right alert technology decisions.  Most communities are served by alerting systems that make telephone calls and send out text messages. When I first got into the business 15-plus years ago, telephone notifications to the public were not widespread. Now, virtually every community uses such systems. Then, some six or seven years ago, emergency text messaging to the public started taking hold. Now many communities use text messaging for emergencies. And, of course, there’s now the Wireless Emergency Alert system that delivers text-like emergency notifications to most cell devices in the country. What an evolution!

Although it’s a mature industry, it’s still an active one. New solutions and approaches are introduced regularly, and organizations have reached the life cycle of their initial investments where time is ripe for updating, exploring alternatives or streamlining operations among the different alerting systems they use.

It’s not a simple matter. There are many solutions and options available, some very good. What works best is a notification system tailored to meet your particular, often unique, needs. I guess that seems obvious. Duh.

So How Do We Do It?

But what’s not so obvious is how to match the needs to the confusing array of technology options available. Here’s how we do it: We talk with lots of people either in an organization or those served by an organization. These aren’t random discussions. They are carefully structured to make sure we engage as many diverse stakeholders as possible and ask the right questions. We listen carefully, very carefully. And often our listening will take us to stakeholders or topics we did not anticipate.

With the results of the discussions in hand, we then go back to our primary stakeholders (generally, the people who hired us) and synchronize our findings. With needs well understood, we’re in a position to match the needs to products and solutions available from the market.

Bottom line: You have many options to choose from. Picking the right ones only results from a deep understanding of what you really need matched to what’s available.

This post was originally published in Emergency Management Magazine’s Alerts and Notifications blog authored by Galain President Rick Wimberly at Emergency Management Magazine.
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