Three Keys to an Effective Emergency Communications Plan
The higher education environment isn’t as idyllic as it used to be. In the face of
security incidents, pandemic outbreaks and natural disasters, higher education
institutions are faced with increasing pressure to secure their campuses
quickly and effectively. What’s more, new federal mandates require campuses to
implement enhanced e911 capabilities.
Many institutions have rolled out standardized lockdown procedures, but schools with
expansive campuses, transient populations and student bodies of adult citizens
need more advanced emergency plans to deal with these challenges as they arise.
This makes advanced emergency communications plans a fundamental part of campus
Experience has taught that the best way to tackle emergency communications is to wrap it
into an overarching unified communications system that supports lockdown
procedures, provides emergency notifications and integrates with building
This approach supports surveillance, delivers alarms and alerts and enhances the
awareness and responsiveness of campus security personnel. It also allows
schools to leverage existing infrastructure investments for voice and data,
while adding video and mobility components as time (and resources) permits.
All told, this strategy results in a three-pronged approach to campus safety:
awareness, response coordination and campus notification. There’s no better way
to keep a campus secure.
The importance of awareness
decision makers can notify the campus community, they must become aware of the
way to do this is to utilize existing IP technology, integrating cameras, door
and window sensors, video surveillance, smoke detectors and building control
systems into an overarching security landscape to keep tabs on what happens
way to do it is to keep tabs on all 911 calls—a process known as “911 Call
Snooping.” Implementing this strategy allows campus security personnel to be
aware of all 911 calls placed from the campus phone system. When the call is
originated, on-campus staff members can silently conference in on the call to
know the details of the incident and stay informed.
Not many vendors offer this type of capability, but Alcatel-Lucent is one.
Finally, schools should adopt solutions that can push the exact location of each 911
call to first responders. This kind of additional information heightens
awareness of emergencies from the get-go, and could save precious minutes in an
Once campus officials are aware of an incident, another key piece of the
communications puzzle is allowing security personnel and administrators to
communicate each other and with first responders including local police, campus
police, fire and rescue, and emergency medical technicians.
The primary mode of communication for first responders is via land mobile radio
breakthroughs in voice technology allow traditional LMRs to interoperate. Several radios on different frequencies and different
system types can now communicate with one another through unified
communications, thus providing the first step towards
In particular, the Alcatel-Lucent OmniTouch My Teamwork Land Mobile Radio
Conferencing and Collaboration (LMRCC) solution combines all the LMR
interoperability features with a robust software platform that allows full
audio conferencing of any telephone device into the LMR radio band. The
solution also allows for the integration of data collaboration in the context
of an LMR conference.
What does this mean for campuses? In the event of an emergency, the communications
network can bridge administrators at home or in remote offices, on-site
security and staff, first responders, or disaster recovery teams with audio,
video and data conferencing.
With the ability to share more information in a shorter amount of time over a
secured connection, institutions can help ensure better decision making with
input from all appropriate personnel.
Notifying campus across vectors
With the campus leadership fully aware of the event and its scope, the school is now
ready to craft and deliver mass notifications. The very best emergency
communications solutions enable flexible, multi-vector communication to a
variety of media:
- Mobile phones through SMS (opt-in or otherwise)
- Digital signage
- Instant Message
- Analog, digital or IP television
- Hotlines using interactive voice response tools
It’s also possible to turn IP telephones into loud speakers by dynamically activating
the speaker phone function.
Alcatel-Lucent is a vendor that offers technology which provides this feature on-demand; the
capability is part of a complete solution that works with third-party
applications and can be deployed either end-to-end or piece-by-piece, depending
on the needs of each individual campus.
Emergency communications is about much more than just notification. By leveraging
existing unified communications technology along with new methods to promote
awareness, coordinate response and notify constituents quickly, colleges and
universities can keep their campuses safer and work to promote an environment
where the focus is on learning and the student experience.
To learn more visit: www.alcatel-lucent.com/education
3400 W. Plano Parkway
Plano, Texas 75075