Choosing an Emergency Notification System

Evaluating Your Need

When choosing an Emergency Notification System provider, there are many options from which to choose. Most businesses begin the process with a Request for Information (RFI) in which they collect information about the capabilities of various suppliers. This information is then used to compare, not only prices, but also capabilities. However, before embarking upon the RFI process, it is imperative to first evaluate and take stock of your own organization’s specific problems and needs in order to arrive at the best possible solution.

Begin the process by determining what functions your business needs. This is helpful when you begin interacting with vendors, because instead of letting them tell you what you need, you tell them. This preliminary knowledge assists in getting you functions that serve you and avoids adding on items that may be valuable to other organizations, but not necessarily to yours. Also, this keeps you from paying for extras that your company will never use. In fact, after seriously evaluating your particular needs, you may determine that an Emergency Notification System is not the best solution for your problem.

Things to Consider

Once you determine that an Emergency Notification System will benefit your organization, and you have identified properties and functions that will best suit your needs, then an RFI or Request for Proposal (RFP) is in order. Because it can be an overwhelming process, here are some things to consider as you begin your search for a vendor:

The Emergency Notification System-

  • supports multiple administrators with different levels of scope and control.
  • reports on administrator accounts and permissions.
  • logs/tracks administrator activity in a way that is easily accessible within the product’s user interface.
  • has multiple notification groups.
  • allows individuals to belong to more than one notification group.
  • can bulk load all or some of an individual’s data from an active directory, .csv file or an Excel spreadsheet.
  • has the ability to set up more than one administrator for a group.
  • allows modifications to an individual’s data by a system or group administrator within the product’s user interface.

Notification and Messaging

The Emergency Notification System-

  • can contact individuals through the following mechanisms:
    • land line phones;
    • cell phones;
    • email;
    • Short Messaging Service (SMS) text messages.
  • differentiates between a human response and an answering machine.
  • can leave a message when a voice-delivered message reaches an answering machine.
  • receives confirmation messages from:
    • land line phones;
    • cell phones.
  • initiates notification from any PC with a browser through a website over a secure socket layer (SSL).
  • converts text to voice for making notifications to voice-based devices.
  • launches notifications through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that guides message initiators through the process of selecting telephone key entries.
  • constructs notifications for later use–utilizing pre-set notification contact lists and messages that might apply to specific situations.
  • has the ability to optionally require a recipient to input a PIN # or other authentication before a message is received.
  • has the ability to require confirmation or to continue attempts if no confirmation is made.
  • will cease sending messages to an individual when confirmation is made.
  • has the ability to poll recipient to respond to a question.

Status and Reporting

The Emergency Notification System-

  • provides real-time display of notification parameters and status.
  • provides post-notification reports of which groups were contacted and which message was sent.
  • stores post-notification reports providing individual recipient information, general notification and summaries.
  • can capture, display, and report on polled responses (whether pre-selected or informational responses to poll questions).
  • can create, print, and/or display ad hoc reports using all application data including recipient information, group information, broadcast summary and broadcast/notification information.
  • creates an ad hoc report filter and sorts on user-selected data-fields.
  • exercises tests on the entire recipient base such as mass loads, notifications, mass edits of specific fields, filtering based on different fields, etc.
  • selectively exercises tests on subsets of the recipient base, such as individual recipient or partial loads of the database, sending notifications, etc.
  • retains information regarding notification history–specifically, what messages were sent to what groups, along with the response history.

User Interface and Service

The Emergency Notification System-

  • has a resolution of alpha/numeric characters of at least equivalent to a printed Verdana font at 8 point.
  • has help menus available for basic functions and features.
  • offers on-call support 24 x 7 x 365.
  • provides standard maintenance to identify and correct deficiencies or to meet performance expectations at no additional costs.
  • provides documentation for external interface requirements.

General Questions

How long has the company been in business?

  • Are systems, software, and software security audits conducted on a regular basis? If so, can the company provide certification of audits?
  • What demonstrable polices and practices are in place to manage the system’s availability?
  • What policies and practices are in place to manage failures or changes to the hardware or software systems?
  • What information or reports are available to validate performance expectations now and on a continual basis?

The previous are not an all-encompassing list of items to consider as each organization will have specific needs and problems to solve that require customized solutions. However, this is a good place to start as you begin the brainstorming process necessary to find the right solution for your business


Message911™ is a phone, web and cloud-accessible emergency notification system that allows large and small organizations to communicate to groups of people during emergency situations through pre-recorded and original messages, while providing real-time tracking of communication. Messages are provided through phone, email, SMS and fax. In addition, Message911 provides 24-hour client service support and is simple to use during real-world emergency situations.

Accounts can be tailored to meet each client’s specific needs and optimized to reflect their organizational structure. Simple, quick and reliable, Message911 offers emergency notification capabilities for an affordable low cost and can scale to meet client demands and requirements seamlessly.

Message911’s system is designed for intuitive use and can be learned in minutes. It is interoperable with multiple systems and has an abundant capacity, capable of easily fulfilling all of communication needs. Automatic daily backups with redundant systems from power to processors ensure reliability–meaning our system works when you need it. By providing a central point of communication that is up to 60% more affordable than the average yearly desktop system, Message911 is a proven service for outsourcing all of your emergency communication needs.