Life safety is a growing concern for everyone. Before the Columbine tragedy in 1999 we seldom, if ever, heard of school shootings or domestic terrorism. Now we come to expect it. Just last week we had at least two college campus evacuations and a high school shooting where the incidents barely made national news.
This problem, along with other needs to effectively communicate with large groups of people isn’t going away. Being prepared for emergency situations is top of mind for nearly every building official responsible for campus safety and security. The one thing we have all concluded is that mass messaging (text and email) alone isn’t enough.
Our industry has the technology and capability of saving lives by improving the systems in healthcare, school and university settings. We can assist in the risk assessment process, we can design systems anticipating the threats and we can integrate effective solutions to provide warning on impending threats.
Unpredictable weather is another factor. It too doesn’t seem to be improving. Early warning combined with intelligible audio messages can make a huge difference. Schools are building rooms using FEMA funding to provide a safe haven for students and faculty.
Combined, these factors have made life safety system integrators a key partner in protecting our schools and hospitals. It puts a new meaning to mission critical for many of us. It gives many of our member companies a higher sense of purpose and greater responsibility when choosing to be in the life safety business.
NSCA members are rapidly exploring this aspect of our industry. Many do so through a complete systems solution, others through partnerships with audio or fire/life safety companies. I make it a priority to engage our members in conversation about this aspect of the industry but never suggest that it’s a good fit for everyone. I will say though that at least 90% of our members could have a significant role in some aspect of this rapidly growing sector.
Professional and commercial audio expertise will be a much needed element of a system. Understanding the fire code will be necessary. The knowledge of combined systems and applications will be so important.
NSCA landed on using the abbreviation “MNEC” to describe the concept of mass notification and emergency audio evacuation systems. It doesn’t define what, where or how the emergency situation is originated, but rather it defines how we can use an integrated solution to quickly and efficiently make the situation better for those in harm’s way. Clear, understandable and reliable messages using a combination of audio and visual signaling methods can make a big difference.
I encourage you to stay informed and be aware of how your company might join this industry segment. CW