Every moment counts in an emergency, so getting help should be as simple as dialing 911. In Kari Hunt Dunn’s case, that phone call proved impossible — her hotel room didn’t allow guests to directly dial emergency services. As Dunn’s estranged husband attacked her in 2013, her young daughter made several attempts to call authorities for help. None went through because she didn’t first dial “9” for an outside line.
But a new federal law will make a difference for the next victim. Kari’s Law requires multi-line phone systems to have a default configuration that enables users to dial 911 directly. While the law doesn’t require mass notification, it highly recommends organizations deploy on-site notification – which automatically sends alerts to executives and on-site emergency responders – if the communications solution in place supports it.
As a result, government agencies, universities and K-12 schools need to be sure their communications solutions comply with the law. Although many legacy phone systems don’t have this functionality, today’s communications technology offers a robust and easily installed solution at a reasonable cost.
To help with your planning, here’s an overview of two technologies – on-site notification and mass notification – and how they can make your school community and government offices safer.
On-site notification keeps the people in your care safer by automatically notifying first responders of an emergency, getting trained assistance to the right people in less time.
Executives can notify staff and on-site police and security as soon as someone dials 911. Alerts include the name, extension number and exact location of the caller. This is especially important in large government buildings and school campuses. Simultaneous notification allows the right people to respond immediately in an appropriate and unified manner. The system’s built-in messaging even allows text communications to be sent from desktops, further enhancing a timely and coordinated response.
Currently only a recommendation, on-site notification will likely become required in the future. In fact, this technology is already available and affordable with new communications technology solutions. As legacy phone systems reach the end of their lifespans, more organizations are sure to adopt this feature.
Finally, integrating your emergency notification system with door locks removes the need to physically lock doors, providing increased protection in an instant. Staffers can initiate a lockdown or lockout from any type of phone.
The technology that underlies onsite notifications systems – intelligent mass notification – offers additional safety features. Most importantly, governments and schools can quickly deliver critical information to an entire community or relevant subgroup when emergencies arise. The technology is also versatile. For example, administrators can use a variety of channels and devices to send alerts.
Ms. Kim Johnson is a U.S. Air Force veteran with over 15 years of experience in technology based marketing and systems engineering. Her career started in the U.S. Air Force as an Air Command Systems Technician. After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Kim went on to work for Amazon and Google as a systems software engineer. She joined HQE at the end of 2020 as the newest team member to manage the marketing and systems innovation department.