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Costs associated with various types of emergency notification systems

Independent disaster recovery expert Paul Kirvan discusses costs associated with in-house and outsourced emergency management systems.

Are automated emergency notification systems expensive? How do they work? Is it a service or something managed in-house?

Emergency notification systems can be in-house devices, often rack-mounted, that can be programmed to generate many outgoing notification messages (both audible and text) to pre-programmed contacts stored in databases. They can also be managed services, in which the user accesses the ENS via a phone call or the Internet, launches the notification process, and remotely manages subsequent activities to be performed by the system.

Prices for standalone systems can range from under $5,000 to well over $200,000. Managed ENS offerings usually require payment of a monthly fee for the service, which is typically based on the number of contacts in the database, features being used, and the network transport services needed to deliver the messages. There may also be activation fees to pay when the system is used in a disaster, and possibly also setup fees when the system database is being built. Monthly fees can range from under $500 to well over $25,000, depending on the system configuration.

Managed ENS solutions are gaining in popularity as they require no physical space to locate equipment, there are minimal or no up-front start-up (e.g., installation) fees, and the service can be discontinued with minimal technical impact on your organization.

An often overlooked feature of most telephone systems (e.g., voice over IP or traditional digital systems) is an all-page feature in which you can broadcast a message to all phones in the system with a single command. This is usually a standard feature in the phone system, so all you need to do is activate the feature, launch it, and have your message prepared for delivery. The added cost is zero, so all you need to do is check with your phone vendor to see how to activate the feature in your current system.

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