Schools still need education about mass notification

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Monday, July 12, 2010

LAS VEGAS—The market for mass notification is maturing, says Pete Tately, Siemen’s program manager for mass notification, but slowly.

In the past two years, “a lot has been learned, but a lot hasn’t changed,” he said. More frequently than you’d expect, he said, Siemens will “get in front of a customer and many are hearing about it for the first time.” Even in higher education, he said, “they are still learning about it.”

“Many went out with the quick message thing,” such as an emergency text alert system, he said. “They thought they had it knocked out in six months, but two years later they realize that while that system serves a purpose,” it’s not a complete mass notification system.

Seimens came out with its Sygnal mass notification system two years ago and it’s sold through both its franchise channel, Siemens Solutions Partners, and directly through Siemens Building Technologies. It’s data-centric, not fire-centric system, but it can be tied into the fire system.

Siemens is taking a targeted approach to educating the market about mass notification, he said. The company has 14 representatives across the country “dedicated to selling and educating about mass notification at the street level.” The company also has a number of marketing activities, and this year began an education series where it does seminars, with a panel of experts presenting information on specific events where mass notification systems would be appropriate. Siemens is doing a several large events and has 15 smaller-scale, but similar programs scheduled at its dealers’ offices.

The other issue that’s slowed down the predicted rapid adoption of mass notification is cost. Installing a complete system is expensive. That’s why Siemens is redirected its approach somewhat to sell and install the system in stages. The systems may be able to do everything, integrate and make more useful every system imaginable—phone, computer, electronic signage for example—but in terms of selling “you can make the subject way too big.”

Siemens’ pitch for Sygnal these days: “Let’s start with the right platform ... as you need the extra pieces you can add them on.”