Author: Joe Oliveri, Vice President, General Manager, Security, Johnson Controls’ Building Technologies & Solutions, North America
Published: Thu, Aug 17, 2017

Whether it be an office building, apartment complex, school campus or hospital, high occupancy facilities pose unique security challenges for building managers. In case of an emergency, building managers must have the proper technology, planning and training in place to ensure all visitors and building staff are guided to safety no matter the threat or emergency.  


As is widely known, all facilities must comply with NFPA fire alarm and sprinkler system codes, but for facilities with high occupancy, Mass Notification Systems provide an added layer of safety technology to maximize the security of occupants. This is an especially important consideration when visitors are dispersed across multiple floors and annexes. In the face of an emergency, real-time notification systems quickly alert all residents, visitors and staff on the situation and how they should proceed. Increasingly organizations are seeking more robust levels of protection, improved communications and the ability to mitigate, prepare, respond and recover from incidents.  Mass notification features include:

·        Direct communication: One of the quickest ways to alert staff and residents to an emergency is through phone and text communication, which can give instructions like shelter in place, use a certain exit or move to a different floor of the facility, depending on the threat.


·        Visual signage: Make sure the building is equipped with TV and video screens in high-traffic areas, such as elevators and lobbies. This technology can double as emergency communication when needed. Screens can be used to display location-tailored messages, and are especially useful for the hearing impaired.


·        Voice communication systems: To ensure all occupants are alerted to the situation and know how they should react, facilities need to deliver universal or individual messages tailored to specific areas, buildings, floors and rooms for a completely customized approach. This approach can be especially useful for the visually impaired, as well as in facilities with a large bilingual population, where the messages can be translated into several different languages.

Implementing a comprehensive mass notification system with consideration to careful planning, installation and integration provides a reliable, layered solution to protect occupants from potentially catastrophic events.

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