Emergency Mass Notification System (EMNS) – Need to Know
An EMNS system facilitates the one-way dissemination or broadcast of messages to one of more groups of people. EMNS solutions are in high demand but it is critical to understand the code compliance and terminology used to ensure your organization is in compliance and providing the best safety measures for your constituents.
In speaking with clients, we find many are not aware of the specific codes and the terminology used in those codes. Specifically, many are confused as to the difference between Primary & Secondary Notification and many have not heard of the Four Layers of Mass Notification. Understanding these terms is critical to provide the proper EMNS solution for your organization.
Primary Notifications VS Secondary Notifications
Not all notifications are created equal. When an emergency occurs it is essential to get critical information out to all constituents. A complete mass notification system must send out Primary Notifications. Many organizations believe that sending out a mass SMS text message accomplishes this. Unfortunately that is a misguided belief. SMS messages are Secondary Notifications because they are sent to a device that is accessed by one individual. Only when both Primary and Secondary Notifications are in place do you have a complete system.
- Primary Notifications – Refers to Immediate and Intrusive Notifications, examples include:
- Public Address such as beacons and conventional speakers
- Fire evac system
- Electronic signage
- Desktop phones (if they can be controlled to allow paging)
- Secondary Notifications – Refers to Personal Alerting, examples include:
- Computer screen pop-ups
- Cellular and text messages/SMS
- Email broadcast / Internet
Mass Notification Layers 1 – 4
In addition to the terms Primary and Secondary Notifications, Mass Notification Layers 1 – 4 are also often used in codes.
- Layer 1 relates to means of notification of occupants by system/equipment installed inside a building and controlled only by authorized users
- Layer 2 relates to means of notification of occupants on the exterior of a building and controlled only by authorized users
- Layer 3 relates to means of notification of personnel through individual measures (distributed recipient MNS)
- Layer 4 relates to means of notification of personnel by public measures (broadcast radio, television and so forth)
These terms will give you a basis to work with as we explore the codes themselves in another post.