AV integration businesses should address their college customer’s mass notification needs. It’s unfortunate, but the need for emergency communications is still very present at schools across the nation. But those who install audio often don’t know how to talk to college IT managers or other technology decision-makers.
If you’re still among those who think an AV installers can’t add mass notification and emergency communications skills to your toolbox, you’re wrong—and you’re leaving a lot of money on the table at a time when codes are driving schools to upgrade their integrated systems.
The following three points will help you better target your higher education goals, especially those that pertain to mass notification and emergency communications.
AV Installers are in the ‘Mission Critical’ Business Already
Scott Lord, design solutions engineer at All Systems in Kansas City, says an integrator that offers MNEC among its solutions to customers “allows [customers] to integrate systems that were disparate.”
“Everyone has a fire alarm and some sort of paging system. We have to ask ourselves how we can add to those to meet that emergency communications component. That allows us to look at leveraging those systems or bringing them up to a standard they can monitor,” says Lord.
K-12 schools and colleges and universities now are mandated to have emergency communications systems that incorporate clear audio and video systems, he says.
“How do we as integrators do that and look at saving lives? Everything they do for their customers already has to work,” he says. “The driver is the codes. We’re seeing fire authorities driving that compliance part in schools. In health care, they’ve been doing it since 2010. [MNEC] fit right into the mix of what they were doing.”
The sad reality is the increase in emergency situations on school campuses, in hospitals and in other large gathering places has made MNEC systems more important.
“Emergencies don’t just happen once a decade,” says Lord.
MNEC Requires AV Integration Specialists
Joe Mendonca, director of IP technologies at HB Communications says digital signage represents “a means to be able to communicate information.” Its ability to be activated in emergencies and broadcast messages to large groups of people immediately makes it ideal for MNEC applications.
“It’s critical for our visual communications systems to integrate with other systems on campus,” says Mendonca. “It provides them another means to communicate information. It could be the difference between saving lives and preventing injuries.”
Integrators that can tie audio and visual tools to life safety systems have an advantage when working with college and school officials, school administrators and hospital directors, says Mendonca.
“Organizations today don’t seek isolated systems that can be independently operated,” he says. “It’s critical our systems integrate with their overall strategy. Organizations are choosing solutions that can integrate into their existing environments.”
How to Deploy Emergency Notification Systems: Safety Experts Speak Up
AV Integrators Already Understand How to Produce Clear Messages
NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson says “the expertise from being an AV integrator is applicable to MNEC,” specifically in terms of audio intelligibility, speech transmission and digital signage applications.
Wilson calls MNEC “a tremendous opportunity to do ‘plus-business’” and sees it as a way to for AV installers to partner with their life safety brethren, where both can learn from each other. Integrators who have MNEC skills “have an appetite for risk others may not,” he says.
“The nature of [MNEC] work ties well into [AV],” says Wilson. “It’s not something you can enter into lightly.”
MNEC represents a $6 billion industry, says Wilson, and sees it “growing like crazy” as infrastructure continues to grow, particularly with that as a focus on the Trump Administration.
“This is going to be a rapidly growing portion of our industry,” says Wilson. “Things don’t feel quite as safe as they once were. This is a unique opportunity for our integrators to apply their knowledge to make bad situations better.”
With the Professional Alliance for Safer Schools in place, NSCA and its members “are uniquely positioned to help” with four levels of life safety and MNEC and mass notification solutions, says Wilson.