When Will Disaster Strike?
By Linda Young
With what seems to be an ever increasing number of tragic events taking place each and every day, it is no longer a question of
What if a disaster strikes?, but rather one of When? And it is through the common occurrence of such emergencies as
bombings, fires, and natural disasters that we are steadily forced to reevaluate our position on emergency notification and disaster
response. With earlier notification methods such as manual call trees, voice messaging, pager alerts, power dialers, sirens, and
offsite service bureaus experiencing major shortcomings and often times breakdown, emergency planners have turned to automation
as the means by which to efficiently manage their call out procedures. The introduction of todays new interactive voice processing
technology, coupled with state-of-the-art automated notification systems, has enabled us to revolutionize both the speed and
accuracy by which we perform our emergency notification/disaster response procedures. In situations where seconds count,
immediate and precise notification can truly make all the difference -- can ultimately determine our success or failure.
Responsive to the comprehensive notification plans of todays corporate, industrial, and government environments, todays automated notification systems perform critical emergency call outs to key employees, EOC staff personnel, and disaster response teams quickly and effectively. Activated remotely from any touch-tone telephone or directly from the keyboard, todays state-of-the-art emergency call out systems allow one telephone call to initiate hundreds of calls instantaneously. And with some systems now being able to dynamically allocate telephone lines, emergency operations centers are capable of placing multiple outbound and receive multiple inbound calls simultaneously -- dramatically reducing overall notification/response time from hours to only minutes.
With certain critical situations occurring at some point within every organization, todays automated emergency notification systems provide utmost efficiency through the use of predefined call out schemes known as scenarios. Scenarios may include the names and/or positions of the personnel or residents to be notified, the sequence by which the call out is to be performed, and the message or instructions to be delivered. The number and design of these scenarios may be included in the systems architecture or may be custom-tailored to meet the specific needs and requirements of the end user -- providing optimum flexibility.
Many of todays automated notification systems also offer an interactive staffing feature that intelligently determines the availability of your personnel. Using high-quality digitized speech recordings of the human voice, emergency call out systems may prompt call recipients to enter Yes/No responses to such qualifying questions as fit-for-duty status, estimated time of arrival, etc. Providing immediate verification by logging these individual responses, this information may be monitored in a real-time mode, printed to disk, or stored in the form of a system status report for an accurate, comprehensive audit trail. Furthermore, some emergency call out systems now efficiently search and find required staff members based on priority level, time of day, shift, or specific calendar rotations -- maximizing overall call activity and productivity.
Also available with todays innovative, new automated emergency call out systems is the ability to activate digital, alpha, and voice pagers, the ability to transmit FAX forms as required by various management and regulatory agencies, and the ability to control sirens and tone alert radio systems from remote locations via DTMF recording.
With the introduction of todays technologically-advanced automated notification systems, corporate, industry, and government emergency planners may now potentially eliminate the costly adverse side effects associated with disaster response/contingency planning. Providing optimum security through the use of user-defined identification codes, virtually removing the possibility for human error, and greatly reducing the time and effort associated with manual call out procedures, these emergency call out systems offer us a valuable, yet cost-effective solution to the numerous challenges of emergency notification. In essence, it is through the utilization of intelligent, interactive voice processing technology and state-of-the-art automated notification systems that we may put the action into our critical decision-making -- that we may ultimately determine our own success or failure.
Linda Young is the marketing director for Dialogic Communications Corporation, Franklin, Tenn.
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