What might the earthquake in Japan mean for the mass notification industry?

Whatever the causes of seemingly disparate catastrophes might be, it is clear that they are not going away any time soon. The question then becomes, what can be done to mitigate the detrimental effects of these disasters?


IMS research: excellence in market intelligneceThe destruction of life and property caused by The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 is nothing short of tragic, and marks the latest in a disturbing string of natural disasters that has included severe flooding in Australia and deadly tornados in the United States. Whatever the causes of these seemingly disparate catastrophes might be, it is clear that they are not going away any time soon. The question then becomes, what can be done to mitigate the detrimental effects of these disasters?

Mass Notification Systems (“MNS”) have emerged as one of the most effective responses to these problems. As events unfold, MNS allows designated authorities to issue critical warnings and ongoing instructions to thousands of people in their relevant jurisdictions in a matter of seconds. The vehicle for the delivery of this information can take the form of hardware devices such as flashing lights, strobes, or live pages over wide area outdoor loudspeakers (“Giant Voice”), or personal alert messages sent via text, e-mail, and phone using MNS software applications.

Two recent advances in MNS software technology offer powerful applications for the relief operations that rescue workers conduct. The first development is bi-directional communication, which is to say that recipients of say, text messages, can now in turn send responses to the original message sender (e.g. “I’m trapped under rubble on the 12th floor of the building”). These responses can be quickly and intelligently navigated and analyzed by first responders, in the process saving lives and resources. Another feature that has come off the back of advances in the consumer electronics market for Location Based Services (LBS) is GPS tracking. This feature allows individuals who have smart phones enabled with the appropriate MNS applications to be geo-tracked and therefore located faster by rescue workers.

While MNS were developed in, and have been focused on, the US market to date, it is clear that applications such as these produce far-reaching benefits that can be reaped beyond America’s borders. Going forward, MNS suppliers can expect robust revenue growth as markets around the world adopt their products. One can’t help but wonder if the timetable for such a process has been accelerated by the unfortunate string of recent events.

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