Did you know that Mass Notification in Buildings could actually save lives?
On November 26, 2008 Vishnu Dattaram Zende walked into his cabin in Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Mumbai) to begin his shift as a manual announcer of trains arriving and departing. But what he did not know is the fact that the speaker system that he held in his hand would soon save hundreds of lives. When terrorists attacked the station he could clearly see them spraying bullets on innocent passengers from a vantage point. Thats when he started warning others from approaching the area where the terrorists were busy creating a blood bath. Hundreds of passengers disembarking from trains might have fallen prey to the bullets of these terrorists but for the determined alert that Zende was issuing.
One cant find a better example than this to portray how useful and powerful mass notification can actually be. Mass notification is a must-have feature in facility management system.Security threats comes in various ways to our buildings bomb threats, terrorist attacks, floods, fire, earthquake.
There are multiple options available in mass notification feature that would allow the facility managers to warn their employees inside and outside the building premises.
Intelligible Voice Communications:Public announcement system is a very powerful tool as the above given example proves it to be. Warning people of imminent threats against any kind of attack or accident is the paramount duty of facility managers. No amount of technology can replace the urgency of alert from a human voice and thats exactly what prompted the passengers at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to listen to the Zende that night.
SMS:Any building with a Gate Management System such as Touchpoint would have a list of mobile numbers of their employees listed in them. Short Message System (SMS) can be used to warn the employees to stay away or give them detailed instructions of how to exit from the building. Flood alerts, fire alerts, earthquake warnings can be issued through SMS to keep the employees away from the building and to warn those who are stranded within.
Visual Alert System:One of the many drawbacks of most facility management systems is the fact that most of them do not take into account the fact that some employees in the building might have a hearing impairment and they might not have heard the warning alert. The mass shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute is a classic example to use here. When a senior student at the Institute started shooting indiscriminately at his fellow students killing 32 people and wounding 17 others. A post-mortem of this tragic incident revealed that though emails and SMS alerts were sent out to the students, most of them didnt receive it.
We realized with all of the technologies we had that we werent able to reach all of the faculty members or students in classrooms that were isolated, says Virginia Tech Associate Vice President, University Relations Larry Hinker. That was a concern after the horrendous shooting we had.
Following this, California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) employed a mass notification system in its sprawling 304-acre campus a flexible system that combines audio and visual signage. Pre-programmed digital signage and multi-media emergency notification system too need to be a part of the mass notification system.
To be prepared for all eventualities is a pre-requisite for Facility Management and to do the same one needs a good gate management system like TouchPoint that is not only flexible but comes loaded with options that can actually save lives.