Secure Your Facility: How to Choose the Right Mass Notification System


mass notification systems showing security applications and a hand with a phone

No matter what industry you're in, whether it's a business, healthcare, or education, no organization's immune from being affected by a serious emergency. Having the necessary communication tools in place can make all the difference when it's time to manage a crisis like a natural disaster, extreme weather, or even a potential security threat on the premises of your facility. Mass notification systems (MNS), also referred to as mass communication systems, were created to help organizations send alerts to large groups of people at the same time during situations when it's important to act quickly.  A well-designed MNS tool can become a literal lifesaver by making sure the right information reaches the right people as soon as possible. MNS tools also come in handy for keeping everyone connected during more routine situations as well, such as paging and daily announcements.

Mass notification systems vary widely from their functionality to scalability and ease of use. They're not all created equal and "out of the box" solutions wouldn't necessarily be able to meet the specific needs of your organization.

Understanding Your Needs

The first step for evaluating mass notification systems is to analyze your specific needs and challenges, based on factors like the size of your facility, the number of people that would need to be notified, and even the types of emergencies you're more likely to be dealing with. An MNS tool that serves a school would have different requirements than the kind of system created for a manufacturing plant, which would also be different from the security needs of an airport. The different risks, acoustical environment, and vulnerabilities that are part of different settings will require their own unique approach. Conduct a basic assessment to help you think through the potential features that should be prioritized throughout your search, as well as how much customization the right tools should be able to provide. 

Speed and Reliability

Choosing a mass notification system with a robust, reliable technical infrastructure should definitely be near the top of the list, especially if you're a large organization. That means your tools should have a proven track record for delivering messages quickly, without delays or technical glitches. Look for a vendor that guarantees high uptime, low latency, and the ability to handle a heavy load of messages during an emergency.  One often overlooked aspect of reliability is avoiding systems that rely primarily on a potentially unstable infrastructure, like WIFI, which can be very vulnerable to interruptions, especially during a critical emergency. Instead, opt for a system that leverages more dependable communication channels, such as SMS or radio frequency networks. A system that provides analytics features can also allow you to monitor how quickly and widely your notifications are actually being received to help you refine your communication strategy, if necessary.

Multichannel Communication

The most effective mass notification systems will be able to send critical alerts through multiple channels to make sure they can reach your audience during an emergency. Some of the options could be text messages, emails, phone calls, desktop alerts, social media, and other delivery methods, to increase the chances of reaching as many people as possible. Some MNS tools will also support two-way communication, allowing the recipients to respond and provide valuable information to the teams managing the crisis. Depending on the specific needs of your organization, you may also need an MNS tool that can be fully integrated with all your existing infrastructure, like PA systems, fire alarms, or even digital signs throughout your facility, to help maximize the reach of alerts.

man received critical alert via phone


Most organizations will grow or change over time so you should choose a system that's able to adapt accordingly and is generally customizable. Scalability includes being able to add or remove users, add another facility, adjust the message templates, or expand coverage as necessary without compromising its performance.

Training and Ease of Use

An effective MNS should be user-friendly and easy to operate, especially during high-stress situations. Look for a tool with an intuitive user interface and clear instructions and that comes with training materials that can help your staff learn to use the system easily. This may include webinars, video tutorials, in-person training, and other resources to help your team practice using the system and get prepared for an actual emergency.

Customer Support

A mass notification system is only as good as the provider support behind it, which includes the comprehensive help that may be needed during a crisis as well as ongoing technical assistance to keep your tools functioning at their best. When evaluating potential vendors, you should ask about the type of customer support they offer and their response time for troubleshooting or resolving issues. You should also seek out a system that provides proactive monitoring, ensuring that your tools are always up-to-date. 

female customer support for mass notification system

Regulatory Compliance

Depending on your industry, there may be specific regulations and guidelines when it comes to your organization's emergency communication. For example, healthcare facilities have to comply with HIPAA rules for protecting sensitive patient information even while sending out emergency notifications, which means they have to choose MNS tools with appropriate options for encryption and secure messaging. You should work with a vendor that has experience dealing with the specific regulations within your industry and can create solutions to help you handle a crisis while remaining in compliance.

Reputation and Reviews

As with any significant investment, especially one that can affect the well-being and security of people in your organization, it's essential to do your research and choose an MNS product with a great reputation. Look for reviews from customers in similar industries or with similar needs and case studies that show how the system performed in real situations. real-world scenarios to gain insight into their experiences. Pay attention to feedback about the system's performance, reliability, customer support, and overall effectiveness in helping organizations handle an emergency.

potential customer looking at reviews from other customers

In today's unpredictable world, the value of having a  trustworthy and well-designed mass notification system can't be overstated. These tools are not just an investment in technology but also a critical step to secure your facility and the well-being of the people within it during situations of unexpected danger. Understanding your organization's unique needs will help you find a system that's comprehensive, reliable, user-friendly, and able to deliver seamless communication during both routine and high-stakes situations. Contact AtlasIED today to explore our tailored, innovative solutions for helping organizations of every size maintain a safe work environment and optimize their communication needs.