9 Key Features of an Advanced Emergency Alert System

Sep 9, 2020

Emergencies happen at a moment's notice. Everything from national weather disasters to cyber threats can disrupt business operations in an instant; that's why having a business continuity plan (BCP) is essential.

Emergency alert systems, also known as Business Continuity Software or Incident Management tools, are the cornerstone of business continuity. According to FEMA, 40% of U.S. small businesses never recover from national disasters. These losses hurt business owners, consumers, and the economy at large.

Worse yet, 34% of employers didn't have an emergency preparedness plan prior to a recent pandemic. (SHRM Covid-19 Research, 2020). Companies that try to recover without emergency management are in for an uphill battle. Recovery is expensive, and some companies fail within the first year after a major emergency.

Today's emergency alert system software goes beyond mass employee notifications. It takes extra steps to safeguard employee well-being and prevent economic loss.

Let's take a look at nine features that define the best emergency alert system software.

1. Rapid Response for Business Continuity: Quick Templates & Geofencing

Business Continuity Planning software enhances a company's current business continuity planning (BCP) process. Business continuity leverages training, testing, and reporting tools to safeguard company assets, employee safety, operations, and business data.

Emergency Alert Systems are central to risk management, but the rapid response is essential. Post-disaster business failure rates are high for companies that forego EAS solutions.

Owners can't afford to waste a second when disaster strikes. Alerting managers and supervisors alone isn't enough. Emergency alert systems come with built-in tools for customization, geo-targeting, and device delivery, so all leaders and employees can respond quickly, regardless of department and location.

Risk management teams can customize alert messages to each department and role to streamline evacuations, data backup and recovery, IT system backups, operational safety procedures, electrical safety, and more emergency protocols.

2. Multi-Channel Communication: Bi-directional Messaging

Communication is a two-way process. When in an emergency, a two-way response system streamlines the notification process, keeping you in touch with your crisis team and offering lifesaving advantages. Bi-directional messaging is also known as two-way communication, which means employees can respond to messages. For example, companies can request employees to confirm alert delivery by texting "c" to confirm or "y" for yes. This feature helps risk management teams measure EAS performance. With a two-way communication system, you can not only send push notifications, text, email and voice messages from your computer, tablet or smartphone, but you can also receive an immediate response and see who is okay and who needs help and prioritize resources accordingly. 

Having the option of sending a voice message, SMS text, email, push, or desktop notifications at the same time to reach your team increases the chances of them receiving an update on time.

Use a mobile-first strategy for emergency notification and incident management, so employees can quickly respond to messages and you can protect your workforce, no matter where they are. Customize messages and reports and quickly notify employees based on their location, department, group, or role. 

Risk management teams send emergency alerts through the following channels.

  • Computer desktop notifications
  • Voice messages by phone (and voicemail)
  • Email alerts
  • Push notifications
  • Text messages

Leveraging all these communication routes will maximize message delivery and improve response times.

Businesses can take bi-directional mass messaging a step further with up-to-the-minute updates. Call-in announcement features are also available for employees who want to contact the company for emergency updates.

3. Streamline Incident Management Processes & Reporting

The goal of incident management is to resolve incidences quickly and efficiently to avoid as much operational loss as possible. A Business Continuity solution without the option of accessing it anytime, anywhere is also vulnerable to data and revenue loss.

Every incident management plan (IMP) needs an emergency alert solution for local, public, and national disasters. BCP software comes with incident management tools that help businesses monitor, detect, analyze, and prevent future losses from forecasted disasters.

4. Integration and Communication

All-in-one IMP platforms integrate BC planning, rapid incident and emergency response, and emergency preparation into one powerful tool. This helps companies save money and time on business recovery, especially businesses that experience prolonged disruption.

Integrated emergency alert systems are critical for companies that expand nationwide and across the globe. And it is especially difficult to get the entire organization engaged and on board with all the business continuity processes. These businesses need versatile Incident Management solutions that respond and resolve incidences at a company location, whether it's located in California or Singapore. As more companies introduce remote work, versatile solutions will be crucial for adapting to new work environments, behaviors, and geo-locations.

5. Improve Collaboration

Incident management is a collaborative effort. IT professionals work with risk management teams and managers to identify, resolve, and prevent future problems. Depending on multiple tools can disrupt workflow, collaboration, and response times, increasing the risk of company losses during emergency events.

All-in-one emergency alert systems bring all team members to the same digital table. Team members can communicate, share and edit documents, access performance reports, analyze incident history, and delegate projects from one singular platform; this ensures that business continuity and incident response teams are on the same page.

Collaboration is crucial for mitigating potential company disasters. Emergency alert software lets team members initiate conference calls within the platform; this feature is essential for future planning and urgent meetings during disaster situations.

6. Comprehensive Workforce Training

Providing training for your employees equals investing in the successful resolution of any emergency situation. Testing and training are the most definitive ways to understand the proper reaction to an incident and know what your team should do to protect themselves and those around them. 

Among many different types of trainings are tabletop exercises, webinars, checklists, and online training on various scenarios. 

Risk management teams, incident management departments, IT, and company leaders aren't the only ones that should be in the loop. Every employee must be prepared to act within their capacity when disaster strikes. Employees must understand the responsibilities and parameters of their roles in emergency situations.

The risks caused by recent events have renewed the industry focus on exposures associated with pandemics, weather-related disruptions, and supply-chain resilience. This is where planning and training components of software come into play. Such functionality ensures that employees know exactly how to respond in an emergency, and management can make sure everything is in place to navigate successfully through the next incident.

Comprehensive training covers the following areas:

  • Cybersecurity awareness for employees
  • Workplace violence prevention 
  • Pandemic response and safety protocols
  • Weather disasters
  • Compliance standards
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Safe traveling best practices

These trainings are presented as interactive courses. Companies can lead live training sessions themselves or enlist the help of experienced BC experts.

7. Monitor Incidents and Develop Reports

Minimizing operational and data loss requires real-time monitoring and reporting. It's critical to identify patterns in emergencies, successful solutions, and response behaviors to prevent even more economic loss in the future.

Emergency alert software comes with automated monitoring, so incident management teams can troubleshoot problems quickly and keep the company updated on developments. Monitoring features let multiple team members watch emergencies closely in real-time, so they can act when it matters most.

Incident reporting is also crucial for loss prevention. Companies must understand the number of reports logged during time windows; identifying these patterns is critical for setting incident management KPIs, or key performance metrics.

Meeting KPI goals improves emergency response times, resolutions and resolution times, business compliance, repeat problems, and incident report backlogs that clog the system.

8. Cost-Effective Solutions

EAS software is also a cost-benefit solution. Business operations may be down, but that doesn't mean a company isn't incurring costs for rent, overhead, sales loss, customer churn, and disaster recovery. These costs add up quickly.

Businesses are dealing with even more threats than before. Along with national weather disasters and cybersecurity attacks, companies can expect to shut down during state-mandated quarantines or experience property damage; these situations can have devastating consequences for small businesses. Long-term planning is critical in a post-COVID world.

As the probability for emergencies increases, companies can update business continuity protocols with advanced technology to mitigate future risks. This is crucial if businesses want to scale during economic disruptions.

9. Customer Service and Tech Support

Exceptional customer service and tech support are two hallmarks of emergency alert system software. Businesses can't afford the consequences of unreliable tech support, especially during emergency situations. Extensive knowledge bases must be paired with experienced live support solutions.

Live support is available to assist software customers with data loss recovery during weather events, sensitive data protection from cyber attacks, and more emergencies. Support services should also be available for user onboarding; onboarding trains and supports software admins from the start, so they're not lost within the knowledge base when disaster hits.

Discover the Benefits of Emergency Alert Systems

Don't pay the cost of being unprepared. Discover the cost benefits and peace of mind of an emergency alert system. Refer to this guide as you integrate your new alert system in your business continuity plan.

Request a demo to learn more about Preparis Incident Management platform, or contact us today for any other business continuity needs.