Mass Notification Alert Systems Spread on Campuses

By Stew Magnuson
The tragic shooting at Virginia Tech last year has sparked interest at educational institutions in mass notification software systems that send out e-mails, text and pre-recorded phone alerts.

Until the shooting, where more than 30 lost their lives, companies such as 3n, of Glendale, Calif., had all but given up on the education market.

University administrations were slow to make decisions and lacked a desire to invest in the systems, said James Keene, executive vice president at 3n.

Alison Johnson, manager of public safety sales at Twenty First Century Communications based in Columbus, Ohio, agreed. “We didn’t dabble in that market very much. Now, we’re seeing a lot more need and interest,” she said.

Inquiries from educational institutions have increased 300 percent since the Virginia Tech shooting, Keene said. Virginia Tech chose 3n to upgrade its mass notification system last summer.

Besides educational institutions, municipalities, companies and the federal government are relying on the growing mass notification systems market.

“Without rapid, coordinated, communications, even the best disaster management plan is virtually ineffective,” 3n literature said.

Twenty First Century Communications used its system during the southern California wildfires last October to send evacuation notices to about 395,000 listed and unlisted numbers in San Diego County.

Topics: Homeland Security, Emergency Communications

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