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Integrating Mass Notification with Fire Alarm Systems

fire alarm, mass notificationIncorporating mass notification into new fire alarm systems can help protect your campus from modern dangers.

In an emergency situation, panic can quickly turn into pandemonium when people are confused and frightened. Like shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater, outdated fire alarm systems that consist only of horns and strobes communicate the threat of imminent danger, but little other information.

Now the ‘theater’ is growing. Many organizations are expanding their campuses and adopting new technologies. People are starting to realize they need more security as the face of the modern emergency changes.

"If you had talked to most school folks 15 years ago, they would have never thought they needed a procedure to lockdown a school," Greg Jakubowski, principal and chief engineer for Fire Planning Associates, told Campus Safety magazine. "But now after these school shootings and other events, folks realize they need a procedure to lockdown the building. That requires a different type of alarm than the fire alarm box with all of the horns and strobes going off, which was all the systems were capable of doing when they were designed 20 years ago."

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Topics: campus emergency, Ouachita Baptist University, InformaCast, campus safety

Ouachita Baptist University Implements InformaCast for Campus Notification

The Client

Ouachita Baptist University is a private liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, AR. Currently, the school educates approximately 1,500 students, most of whom live in on-campus housing.

The Business Challenge

Like many universities, Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) started their search for a campus-wide communication system after the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April, 2007. IT Services at OBU knew they wanted a solution that included an audible component. Rob Crockett, Network Administrator at OBU, explained that it would be unwise to rely solely on text messages, emails, or their school’s webpage for transmitting information, as not everyone is at their computers at all times. “We could send messages, but we don’t have a way to know if it is actually going to get to the phone once it leaves our network,” said Crockett, “We needed to build a layered system. We didn’t need to rely on just one aspect. We needed to rely on many aspects.”

OBU’s IT Services team also decided that their future system should be simple enough for anybody to use, but at the same time, with just a couple of clicks, notification would be sent out to a variety of endpoints. Crockett found Singlewire’s (then Berbee) InformaCast application after the Vice President for Student Services made a suggestion of his own on the campus-wide communication system. “Our Vice President for Student Services asked us, ‘Is there a way we can ring all the phones on our campus to alert people?’” At first, the IT Services team didn’t think it was possible. “Then I was able to find InformaCast, and started looking into it, and I said, ‘Yes, we can do what you are asking for,’” related Crockett.

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Topics: Case Studies, Ouachita Baptist University, emergency communication, Hi-Ed, campus safety

Ouachita Baptist University Sends Notification with InformaCast

While students at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) were registering for classes on August 24, 2010, administration received information about an armed robbery suspect approaching their campus. The approximately 1,500 students were notified of the situation and a lockdown of the Arkadelphia, AR campus was accomplished through text and audio messages sent with OBU’s Emergency Notification System, supported by Singlewire’s InformaCast application.

The Vice President for Student Services at OBU activated their Emergency Notification System after a call from the local police explaining the situation. “Once [the Vice President for Student Services] understood the situation at hand, he was able to send the alert from his computer,” remarks Rob Crockett, Network Administrator at OBU.  “He was able to send an audible message with InformaCast. He was able to [send] text messages. He was able to change our webpage, and send emails to all students, faculty, and staff.”

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Topics: campus emergency, DORA, Ouachita Baptist University, InformaCast, emergency communication

Singlewire Software

Singlewire Software develops and supports innovative voice applications centered around secure, fast, and reliable mass notification capabilities. More →

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