Calling vs. Broadcasting to Phones for Mass Notification

By Singlewire Software
9 Nov 2018

Avoid Failed Calls

Many mass notification providers will claim that their software can reach desk phones by placing a call through their telephone. While this may seem like a simple solution, the hidden complications can have severe consequences.

Several factors will contribute to large numbers of simultaneous calls failing to get through; the most common being trunking capacity. This is the number of phone lines that are connected from a phone system to the outside world. Very few businesses pay for an active outside phone line for every phone. The typical ratio is four phones for every outside line. That means, when a mass notification service provider tries to call all of an organization’s phones at once, 75 percent of these calls will be blocked due to lack of trunking capacity. If the mass notification system is smart enough, it will try repeatedly until it reaches every phone. However, a lot of time will have passed while those calls are being placed, which is far from ideal if there’s a real emergency unfolding. And if all of the trunking capacity is being used, no outbound phone calls can be made to 911 or anywhere else.

Even if an organization had trunk capacity for 100 percent of its people, most phone systems would perceive hundreds or thousands of simultaneous phone calls as a denial of service attack. Their response would be to block many of these calls.

Broadcasting Relieves the Pressure

The other option is broadcasting to phones. Certain emergency notification systems, like InformaCast from Singlewire Software, can use a phone system to send a single multicast audio stream across the internal network. The phones then play this audio stream via their speakers or the handset. This uses zero phone trunk capacity, and there is no need for the end user to answer the phone because the audio is automatically broadcast via the speakerphone.

If the phone system is unable to perform this function, leveraging a desktop notification tool can be a useful substitute. When an alert is sent, a notification will pop up on the computer screen and automatically play the audio out the speakers of the Windows PC or Mac. That way, every phone and/or computer can be turned into an emergency notification speaker.

Every Moment Matters

When an organization experiences an emergency, whether it be an active shooter, severe weather or some other crisis, they don’t have minutes to reach everyone. In that amount of time, the emergency may already be over before they’ve been able to reach everyone.

An enterprise-class emergency notification system offers a clear advantage that reaches both mobile phones and on-premises devices like Cisco phones, computer desktops, overhead paging and digital signage, all with the press of a button, and without using any phone trunk capacity.

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