Demystifying Primary vs. Secondary Notification | Global CTI

Demystifying Primary vs. Secondary Notification


Emergency Mass Notification is an area that has received a great deal of attention in recent years. Unfortunately this is largely due to tragic incidents that have exposed the vulnerabilities of certain populations and environments, consequently emphasizing the need for better communications and alerting. Fortunately, a number of solutions are available to address these needs.

The National Fire Protection Authority (NFPA) is the authority on emergency mass notification.  It dictates that primary notification must provide the transmission of visible notification and messages be simultaneous to audible notification and messages and that this notification must be immediate and intrusive.

In contrast, Distributed Recipient Mass Notification Systems (DRMNS) such as e-mail or text messaging are considered secondary (supplementary) notification. These technologies may be good systems, but do not encompass a “survivable” design that would enable the ongoing delivery of accurate communications even if one or more parts of the system’s network are down.

The NFPA makes clear that DRMNS such as text messaging or e-mail shall not be used in lieu of required audible and visual alerting EMN System. This is due to the possibility of delivering conflicting information such as a text message directing a person to remain in place, while the EMN System in the building provides the evacuation message. If the EMN system is activated before the occupants received the message, there could be confusion.

A layered approach using an EMNS and an integrated distributed recipient notification system is considered the best solution for reaching the largest number of occupants. However, the sequence of notifications (from all systems) must be considered, and any potential delays in the transmission of communications must be minimized. For these reasons, all systems should be integrated and coordinated with a facility’s emergency plan

Utilizing a combination of audible and visual notification devices, such as strobes, voice communications (indoor and outdoor speakers) and programmable LED signage is seen as the most intrusive solution for capturing the attention of occupants and delivering a clear, audible message.

Many campuses share the challenge of how to alert faculty/staff, students, and visitors throughout sprawling facilities in the absence of an in-building public address system. Global CTI’s ACTIVATE – One Touch Emergency Notification System is designed to help overcome this challenge. It compliments your distributed recipient outcall notification system to ensure effective timely warnings when personal cell phones are turned off or encounter severe latency due to tower congestion, or simply when emails may go unseen.