I know what you’re thinking. Anything with the words Old School in the title must be, well, Old School! And upon further investigation, I guess I resemble that remark. When I first entered the telecommunications industry in the late 1980’s, including a separate overhead paging system to a premise-based Key or PBX telephone system seemed to be the norm. In a larger office space environment, having ceiling speakers strategically placed throughout the common areas using an office paging system provided the solution to track people down when they were away from their desk. And having a warehouse paging system for applicable businesses was an absolute must in order to effectively communicate with people, especially in a busy environment with forklifts racing past you in an effort to get things from point A to point B.
But now we live in a time where companies are replacing their Old School Key and PBX telephone systems with IP-based telephone systems where all or part of the “brains” of these systems are hosted in the cloud, i.e., the telephone system’s programming resides in an off-site data center and is accessed via a broadband internet connection. The need to have your walls overran with bulky telecommunications equipment is gone. At long last the janitors get their closet space back!
We now live in a time where everybody has a high powered computer on their hip, and communicating with employees away from their desks or in a warehouse environment is as simple as calling or texting them on their cellphones. Take the next step and add mobility to your IP telephony solution and your office extension follows you, and finds you, wherever you go through an app. So who needs an overhead paging system now?
Not every company pays to have employees carry cellphones, you say? Do you think that stops employees from having smartphones in the workplace? As a father of 6 I can relate to the essential need of this device in order to stay connected to my wife, my children, the schools, and so on. And if you asked these employees if they would be willing to download a business app on their own cellphones, the majority would say yes.
Worried about going over your family’s data plan? No need. Taylored Systems spends a great deal of time upgrading our customers’ data networks, extending the reach of their Wi-Fi capabilities enabling these business apps to run on the company’s data network rather than the family data plan.
So am I saying there’s no longer a reason to implement an overhead paging system in the work environment? No. You can explain the need for overhead paging with one word: SAFETY! All you need to do these days is turn on the news and you’ll see examples of the need for emergency notification systems. The need for employees and customers to feel safe has never been more prevalent than in today’s environment. Unfortunately, the world we live in today includes the threat of terrorism, mass shootings, and kidnappings. The need for emergency broadcast systems has never been higher.
The key to a good emergency communication system is to not rely on just one mode of communication. If a mass notification system relies on one primary means to get the word out, and that means has been disabled, then the effectiveness of the message has been crippled. After the bombings at the Boston Marathon a few years ago all cellular networks were disabled in hopes of preventing other cellphone-based detonations. If the only emergency warning system in place was on a cellular platform all communication would have been lost.
When I watched Jim Brainard, the mayor of Carmel, Indiana, deliver his State of the City speech recently, I was mesmerized by the type of environment they are busy developing in Carmel. You know Carmel, Indiana… rated the #1 Place to Live in America by Money Magazine…Carmel, Indiana… the city with the most roundabouts in the world…THAT Carmel, Indiana. I watched him discuss what type of place Millennials wanted to live in; a place where you can work, eat, shop, etc. without having to get in your car and drive. And a large part of the “ideal” place to live in is safety. The need to feel safe is now more important than the need for privacy in the communities where we live. If you live in an environment that has a high level of video surveillance in order to ensure one’s safety and thwart possible criminal activity, that is a big plus. If that same community has the ability to alert its people of potential hazards by a multitude of ways, including warning tones and overhead speaker announcements, then you are living in a community worthy of being ranked #1 Place to Live in America!
The same can be said for the work environment. Employees and customers want to feel safe. The appropriate approach to providing a safe environment is with a multi-layered emergency broadcast system. In addition to television screen display announcements, mobile and IT notifications and proper lighting indications businesses still need to have properly engineered office and warehouse paging systems. You may be the one person who left your smartphone at your desk on your way to the bathroom when an emergency has taken place. Or you may be in an environment where personal cellphones are not allowed and are not sitting in front of a computer screen, e.g. workers on a factory assembly line. This makes the tried and true…or Old School…overhead paging system and horn type emergency warning system a necessary part of almost any type of company’s emergency notification system.