Emergencies and disasters are situations caused by natural and unnatural phenomena that can cause damage to infrastructure, loss of human life and livelihoods. These types of occurrences can trigger crises that directly impact the socioeconomic structure of society, which is why it is very important to implement means and strategies for prevention and alert the population. In this context, both information and communication need to be managed efficiently: both are essential for decision-making, resource mobilization and damage assessment. will cover everything related to an emergency communication system.
What is an Emergency Communication System?
It consists of an organized system with one main function: to support the communication of information (related to an emergency) to individuals and groups of individuals. This communication can be of two types: unidirectional and bidirectional.
It refers to a set of methods adapted to notify communications that provide details and details about an emergency. It is considered unidirectional because users only receive alerts or messages, without the possibility of establishing a communicative dynamic. One of the best known examples are the SMS notifications provided by municipalities and governments in case the forecasts (climatological, seismological , among others) exceed a certain stability threshold.
In this case, communication allows the receiver to interact with specialized personnel and receive instructions on how to proceed in the emergency. As an example we have the helplines (911, firefighters). It should be noted that this system can also integrate those related to one-way communication.
How does an Emergency Communication System work?
The origin of the information related to the emergency can come from multiple sources and locations, from which the system will be responsible for disseminating it to certain objectives. The design of these systems allows data to be transmitted to a wide variety of devices.
There is a possibility that the effectiveness of communication systems is compromised or limited, depending on the nature of the emergency and the effects it originates in the environment where it occurs. For example: overloading of telephony networks that directly influences the sending of alert SMS messages. To avoid this type of situation, the systems must have a series of attributes that guarantee their maximum operability in a situation of risk to the population:
Ease of use
For the reach of communication and notification systems to be optimal, the interface must be intuitive and easy to operate by users. Achieving this requires clear and precise instructions on how to proceed in the event of an emergency. It should also be borne in mind that it is very likely that people who make use of these systems are in a stressful situation and in which they must act quickly, which is why it is vital that information is communicated and complex coordination is carried out effectively and easily.
It has been proven that the more affordable it is to acquire, install and maintain an emergency communication system, the more prolific it becomes. This means that more people can access and use it in an emergency. As a result, pertinent decisions can be made to deal with dangerous situations and help save human lives.
It consists of the ability of an emergency communication system to connect with other systems. Ideally, a unification is generated between the issuers of alerts, the system providers, the emergency systems and the recipients of the alerts (the users). It should also take into account the need for this system to be compatible with old technologies and adapt to those that may be generated in the near future.
Depending on the context of the users (location or proximity to the place of the emergency, risk), the information, being the same, can vary in specific ways. For example: in a natural disaster situation, people must – in the first instance – remain calm and move to safe areas, so the indications must be clear and precise. On the other hand, law enforcement and the relevant authorities in charge of taking control of the situation must have an in-depth knowledge of the details and details of the emergency, data that could overwhelm (and would not help) an ordinary person. Likewise, in the case of a kidnapping or shooting, the communication must have filters so as not to be received by the perpetrators.
There must be multiple emergency communication channels, thus anticipating that some of them will not work and others can be used. For example: if the telephone lines collapse, you can turn to social networks to request help and report the situation.
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