Emergency sirens, horns, and audio announcements may be a good way to get people’s attention, but they often don’t convey the nature of a security alert and what people should do. They also may interfere with other activities if they are being used for other reasons than emergency notification. Voice, email, text messages and website alerts can broadcast alert information widely, but only to parties who are in the distribution list or who know where to go online… and who are carrying a phone or other message-able device.
So it’s no surprise that many health care organizations are looking at digital signage as part of their security alerting strategy, and for many, security alerts are the initial driver to deploy visual signage.
Lynn Bunn, Strategy Architect, Bunn Company, says, “Visual display is increasingly used in safety alerts and mass notification to augment other communications approaches such as email, text and SMS messaging, audio announcements, alarms, etc.”
Digital sign alerts can also be visible more quickly than broadcast messages. For example, at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, the local campus police can trigger an alert, and, reports Spencer W. Graham, II, Manager of Operations for Information Stations, the Interactive Video Network and Web Services at WVU. “Within about nine seconds, the security messaging will pre-empt the normal digital display information loop. By contrast, it can take 30 to 45 minutes to queue up email and text messages to our 11,000 subscribers.”
“If you want to create a digital signage network, you have to start with emergency messaging,” says WVU’s Graham. “It’s not hard to sell that idea. When we talk to administrators and other decision makers, no decision makers want to be the one who said ‘we didn’t need that.’”
The incident often comes to mind most often when talking about alerting is the April 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. And even though gunfire and other violent incidents are thankfully