It’s time for a different kind of blog on “Get the GAB.” We typically cover policies affecting systems integrators, but after this week’s events – it’s time to take a stance.
This week is evidence enough that it is time to put words into action and come up with a viable solution to assist in public safety. On Monday we witnessed the tragic twin bombings during the Boston Marathon; Wednesday, a fertilizer plant exploded in Waco, TX; and a variety of severe weather threats throughout the Midwest and southern states are expected to continue through the weekend. If that isn’t reason enough to understand why emergency communications systems are a critical component to any public venue or event – I’m not sure what is.
12 years ago, I witnessed the tragic events of 9/11 in Washington D.C. My office was one of the first to evacuate the U.S. Capitol complex. We left our offices not knowing where to go, what to expect or how long we’d be gone. After fleeing the building, we saw an airplane fly too close for comfort over the Capitol building – mass chaos broke out and everyone franticly ran for safety – it was a scene from a movie and one you never expect to be a part of.
Many people have continued to live their lives as if 9/11; the Oklahoma City Bombing; Waco; Colorado shooting; Joplin, MO; Sandy Hook; Super Storm Sandy, and now Boston never occurred – but others are still unable to fly or return to a movie. Even I had a moment of second-guessing my attendance at a hockey game this week – but we can’t live in fear, and we shouldn’t let others. We can’t get too comfortable, but this integrator community can help put the public at ease and ready to live each day to its fullest – with little to no fear.
All of these events have given me a reason to write this blog and ask for your help. We aren’t going to stop these types of acts from happening, but you, the NSCA member, you have the expertise and capabilities to take a leadership role in providing solutions that will help the community affected in protecting lives and assets. Let that be your philosophy to your customers.
Businesses in and around the Joplin, Kansas City area recognize the value in these systems after the devastating storms – let’s get the rest of the country feeling this way. Help people know what to expect, where to go and why, who to communicate with and when. This isn’t simply about fire alarms – this is about integrating A/V, security, IT, and other life-safety technologies and applications to provide public safety and assurance.
If you’re not familiar with mass notification and emergency communications systems (MNEC/ECS), get to know them, and get to know them well because the public needs you to be aware and to care. We should always be diligent, but when the public attends an event or gets caught in a storm, they should be equipped with a sense of security that the technology will allow them to evacuate and find shelter quickly and safely – even in the midst of distress.
We don’t need policy to drive this initiative. The Department of Defense was given a directive to incorporate these systems into their facilities and they did. We are capable right now to put these systems into place – we just need more buy in from government and code officials.
It is clear that now MNEC systems must be mandatory in other public venues, regardless of commercial, private, healthcare, educational, or outdoors
Organizations like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have created codes to set a standard for public safety, but unless 1) government officials know about these codes, 2) the state requires these updated codes, and 3) officials have funding to implement the code changes, only the most aware and responsible facility owners and managers will implement these initiatives, and provide MNEC systems in their private facilities.
Take the reins and become the leader on MNEC systems and applications – understand the MNEC marketplace and pay attention to individuals who are currently offering these solutions. This is taking the technology you know and love to a new level while simultaneously offering a positive public service.
As people are being interviewed on their way out of a building, or event after an emergency, they can say they knew what to do, where to go – all because technology aided us in what to do. You can pat yourself on the back knowing that you saved a life because you provided a solution that every facility manager, event planner, security director, and government official needs to know.
Regardless of if it’s an act of violence, severe weather, a spontaneous fire or a chemical disaster; you have the opportunity to be the voice, the change, the solution. Take the steps toward being the leader attend NSCA’s MNEC Symposium, in conjunction with PSA’s PSA-TEC event, May 9, in Westminster, Colorado – you won’t regret it.