From our vantage point, we believe there exists in the industry today some interesting big-picture trends that will change the landscape of ENS over the next decade. As such, we begin a series on Next Generation Emergency Notification Systems (NG ENS). Over the coming weeks, we will look into our crystal ball and highlight a few of the market demands and unfolding technology innovations, hopefully providing both buyers and vendors with a few things to ponder.
TREND #1: MOVING FROM PROPRIETARY, STAND ALONE SYSTEMS TO HIGHLY INTEGRATED COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
Most emergency notification systems in use today are essentially stand-alone applications. In many cases, these are on-premise, proprietary systems, contributing yet another "black box" server to the emergency operations center's stable of hardware. In growing numbers, systems can be accessed through the Internet or a secure network, with no on-premise hardware (Software as as Service, or SaaS). Yet, regardless of the deployment option, few are tightly integrated into other critical applications at both the data and interface levels. We believe such integration will be a hallmark of NG ENS in the future.
Emergency managers know well that notification is but one small element of managing the response to a critical event. Other key functions include:
Â· Information gathering and analysis (through multiple channels and/or disparate databases)
Â· Dispatching of active and/or off-duty resources, potentially across multiple agencies and jurisdictions
Â· Decision-making within the constraints of the current environment along with an evaluation of potential future risks
Â· And more.
While many of the applications designed to aid with these functions also currently stand alone, they are clearly merging. Incident management applications are assimilating with traditional call-taking and CAD systems which are also tying to Records Management Systems (RMS) and other applications, etc. As such, it makes little sense to operate and maintain a separate alerting system when much of the data and operational processes overlap.
Certain vendors have paid lip service to the idea of comprehensive seamless integration, but there has been little real movement on this front to date. Standards-based, integrated solutions will evolve, however, as time passes (we're beginning to see signs of this). And notification systems will further mature in their ability to "talk" with other notification systems (a system of systems approach).
The market is looking for ways to streamline costs and enhance operational efficiencies: this will help relieve that pain. Look for emergency notification to evolve into a sophisticated module within a much larger application, instead of a stand-alone service or software application.
What do you think? Let us hear from you regarding this and other trends you see developing. Stay tuned for additional installments.
To receive a comprehensive white paper: "Notifications Alerts & Warnings, The Next Generation" go to http://galainsolutions.com/resources.html.