This blog series aims to answer the question, “when all emergency notification systems seem the same, how do I choose the best one for my business?”

We’ve covered the commoditization of the emergency notification system (ENS) market and why you should consider international privacy regulations in your decision. Today, we’ll look at a feature set that seems like an obvious part of any ENS solution: mobile apps.

These days, it often feels as if every business advertises their mobile app – even those where the actual use case is questionable. But some apps just make sense. Imagine traveling without airline apps, a world without mobile banking, or being unable to access your basic business systems on your device (many of us, of course, can imagine that world since we lived in it – but that doesn’t mean that we want to go back!) Mobile access to your ENS goes in this must-have category. In an unplanned business disruption or emergency, you will likely need immediate, on-the-go access more than ever.

The Availability and Quality of ENS Mobile Apps Vary Widely

It’s therefore surprising that a quality mobile experience is NOT one of the ways in which most mass notification systems are created equal. In fact, forget the “quality” part – some ENS vendors don’t even offer an app, period. This should be an early question in your evaluation process and one for which the wrong answer – no app – gets the vendor immediately removed from the list. Not only do you need a mobile app for your emergency notification system, you need one that truly empowers both administrators and recipients to use the system effectively from the palms of their hands.

After establishing that the ENS vendor does indeed offer a mobile app, ask for what systems and at what price point. If it’s only for iOS, that’s better than nothing, but still leaves a large portion of your people in the dark. If it comes with a hefty add-on price tag, it might not work with your budget, and it won’t do you any good if you can’t afford it.

What Differentiates the AlertFind Mobile Experience?

At AlertFind, we believe that the mobile experience is an integral part of the overall effectiveness of the solution. Virtually no business operates 100% from the desktop. For many organizations, your employees are out of the office and on the road more often than not, which is one of the reasons that an emergency notification system is important in the first place. The days of announcing the situation over the loudspeaker at the office are over.

To that end, we’ve made significant investments in an app that extends the utility of the system. The AlertFind app is available for iOS, Android, and soon for Windows mobile. It lets you do many of the same things that you do from your desktop. Administrators, for instance, can launch notifications quickly using saved templates or create them from scratch on the fly. This allows admins to be ready to push a notification almost instantly or easily customize a message in unforeseen circumstances.

The AlertFind app also uses mobile technology to augment the capabilities of the desktop version. End users (recipients) can use the app to log their exact GPS location for geo-fenced notifications. This is critical for reaching the right people if the unplanned business disruption only affects a certain area, as in a weather situation or IT or utility outage. In an upcoming release, we will add the ability for the app to automatically log locations based on a user-defined interval. That means that your recipients don’t need to worry about manually tagging their location; the system will already know where they are and use that information to provide the most relevant and targeted notifications.

Mobile apps for emergency notification systems also carry the benefit of adding an additional delivery channel. Users with the app installed on their smartphone or tablet can receive notifications directly from the app versus via voice, email, or SMS. While this may seem redundant at first glance, it can be crucial in environments (especially outside North America) in which recipients face charges for data or text use, or where notifications no longer work on those channels if a user has surpassed their limit.

A well-equipped, easy-to-use mobile app for your mass notification system is not a nice-to-have: it’s a fundamental component of the solution. Make sure that your ENS vendor not only offers a mobile app, but that it’s affordable, available on multiple platforms, and armed with the features you need to keep your employees safe no matter where they are.

For more on the AlertFind mobile app, check out “AlertFind: There’s an App for That” or get in touch to see it in action.