In an emergency you want as many ways as possible to get the message across to everyone you need to alert. The more channels you have, the more likely you are to get hold of them. That’s why most mass notification apps will offer multiple channels including SMS mobile alert text messages, in-app push messages, email, voice call, and more. Of all channels however, emergency alert app push notifications will grab attention more than others.
Not all messaging methods are created equal when it comes to emergency communications. While mobile alert text messages and emergency alert app push notifications are both mobile phone based, they can have very different results when it comes to emergency notifications. For an organisation who have invested in a mass notification app, there are real benefits to requiring your employees and response teams use it.
Mobile alert text messaging is effective for sending emergency alerts
Both SMS text messages and in-app push messages have uses for getting messages to people fast. Both channels are phone based, which is pretty useful as people check their phones multiple times a day, and many people have their phones no more than a hand’s length away all day, and even all night.
Mobile alert text messages are also quick to create, quick to receive, and quick to read. People have become conditioned to reading messages as soon as they come in, and even now, 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of delivery. Messaging to a phone channel (SMS or push notification) is far more effective than email, as 98% of text messages are opened, compared to 20% of emails are opened.
Mobile text alerts compare well against voice calls too. Voice calls (and even voice messages) use more bandwidth than a text, so are more likely to fail when the cell network is congested. Voice calls also use more battery than a text, and in the chaos of an emergency it may be difficult to hear a message.
SMS text messages vs emergency alert app push notifications for critical alerts
|SMS text messages
|In-app push notification
|Uses native phone messaging system.
|Messages sent through an app appear as a notification on phone homescreen.
|Messages are sent via the user’s cell network provider.
|Messages are sent via the internet.
|Don’t always support multi-media rich messaging formats.
|Can send all media and types of message.
|All devices have SMS facilities.
|Requires user to download an app.
|Not possible to geo-locate specific people.
|Offers geo-location of app users.
Using SMS for emergency communications
SMS text messaging is one of the most common channels for emergency communications, for good reason. Every phone has SMS messaging facilities so an emergency message will reach everyone equally. Messages are delivered fast, and they take up little bandwidth on cell networks, allowing them to be delivered even when networks are overloaded.
For public alerting especially, sending emergency messages through SMS makes sense because they use phone numbers which can be added quickly, and can even be set to send to all users within a certain distance from certain cell towers.
However sending emergency communications through SMS has limitations, especially for a specified population, for example your employees.
Cellular networks are not designed to handle large numbers of messages at once, and can fail during a large scale incident. The SMS facility on a phone can be used for messaging of all types – social, work, commerce, and more, so people may have message fatigue and not check SMS messages regularly out of work hours.
Emergency alert app push notifications
Push notifications are the messages that pop up on a mobile device over and above any other screen open at the time. A push notification can’t be ignored by the user, making it an effective way to get their attention.
Push notifications from an emergency mass notification app have other advantages. They do not rely on cellular networks. A dedicated app is reserved for notifications of this type. Users will know that if they receive a message from the mass notification app, it is important, they need to read it quickly, and respond. There are options for richer messages using different forms of media such as images or videos sent via attachments or links.
Push messages also open up avenues for geo-locating services, which is crucial for employers who have a duty of care towards employees during work time, or when they are travelling for work purposes. There are also more options for read receipts, response options and more.
Finally sending in-app push messages are free, unlike SMS messages which will cost per user.
The added benefits of an emergency mass notification app
Encouraging your employees, partners, or other key stakeholders to use the emergency mass notification app will enable you to really ensure that they are connected and informed during an incident of any kind, helping you keep them safe.
The emergency mass notification system enables you to segment audiences, and define the messaging that they will receive in any emergency. You can define the narrative that they hear, and ensure that they work with you throughout the entire incident.
Emergency mass notification apps are secure, reliable, and always on. They provide multiple channels to get hold of an employee, geo-location services to track their location if they are in trouble, two way communication to allow you to request acknowledgement of messages, and to stay in touch with response teams, employees who need assistance, and more.
Learn more about how an emergency mass notification system will help your business respond to an incident faster, improve critical communications, and ultimately return to normal faster.