Spotlight on InfoComm 2019


3 Reasons AV Integrators Should Offer Mass Notification Emergency Communications

Codes and proliferation of wide-scale emergencies are driving schools, hospitals and college campuses to add mass notification emergency communications systems.

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Why don’t more AV-centric integration firms address their customers’ mass notification emergency communications needs?

We know all too well from articles we’ve written and stories we’ve heard from integrators that those who install audio don’t often get along with or even talk to those who install life safety and emergency solutions.

But if you’re still among those who think an AV integrator can’t add mass communications and emergency communications skills to your toolbox, you’re wrong—and you’re leaving a lot of money on the table, particularly at a time when codes are driving schools to upgrade their integrated systems.

AV Integrators Are in the ‘Mission Critical’ Business

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, says Lord.

“How do we as integrators do that and look at savings 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.

Here’s more from Scott Lord mission-critical integration:

MNEC Is All about Integration

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.”

Mendonca says AV integrators that can also install MNEC systems can realize “significant” revenues.

“We live in uncertain times,” he says. “We need to leverage our technology. The speed of communicating that message can save lives or prevent injuries. If our technologies don’t integrate, they often won’t get utilized.”

Here’s more from Joe Mendonca on integrating MNEC systems:

It’s a Natural Business Extension

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 solutions, says Wilson.