Having an Emergency Notification System (ENS) is a step in the right direction when considering emergency preparedness. Still, just having this system is not enough.
When an emergency happens, we tend to find out that an Emergency Notification System was either not in place or was never utilized. Also, there have been a few cases of the emergency notification system simply failing, something that should never happen.
These systems need to be tested regularly to ensure they are functioning properly and effectively. No excuse can explain the lack of concern for your users. So, the question naturally becomes, how often should I test?
How often should you test?
For those that have adopted an Emergency Notification System into their emergency preparedness plan, we recommend testing regularly. We understand that this is a subjective figure, so it is up to you to decide what that means.
There is a fine line between too often and not enough. If you are testing too often, users may become complacent and disregard the test alerts. This may become an issue if these users are exhibiting this behavior during a real event.
Alternatively, if you wait too long before test cycles, you may find that your system is not working when you need it the most.
So, the simple answer is that you should test your system enough to ensure that it is doing what it needs to do while also ensuring that your users do not become dismissive of these tests. We typically recommend at least two (2) full tests a year.
Why should we test?
There are many reasons why you should be testing your system. For obvious reasons, you want to make sure they work because these systems are crucial to the safety of your users. If something is not working, these tests will ensure that the troubleshooting of the system and its endpoints are conducted before a real emergency arises.
These systems also handle a high volume of traffic once they are activated, and with so many points of failure, it is important that these tests take place. Testing whether this volume can be appropriately distributed is critical. Especially since not every situation and environment can be recreated, or factored for, during configuration.
Additionally, you are paying for these systems, so they should work. In our opinion, nothing beats the Return on Investment (ROI) of an Emergency Notification System that works efficiently. Safety is something we take very seriously at Vigilance Software and so should you!
Lastly, testing will help put your users at ease knowing something like this is put into place. It shows the user that their safety is important, and it will help them feel safer. Testing also helps your users feel confident during a situation because it trains them on how they should react and what to expect.
As mentioned above, these tests should be conducted regularly. Although we typically recommend at least two (2) full tests a year for your users, our platform allows you to test more frequently in other ways that are not as invasive to your user base.
With our built-in testing tools, the administrator can test each alert that they have built, without the actual actions being sent out. This allows the administrator to see which actions are initiated, the user groups and users that should receive them, as well as the physical locations that will be involved.
We also have built-in features that notify the specified administrators when their Emergency Notification System goes offline, has a potential network issue, or needs an update. Our platform also logs other pertinent information that may prevent future failures as well.