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Incident management systems vs. emergency notification systems

Independent disaster recovery expert Paul Kirvan compares incident management systems and emergency notification systems in this Expert Answer.

How does an incident management system differ from an emergency notification system? Can you compare the two in terms of the specific services they offer as well as the cost?

An incident management system addresses how an organization responds to an unplanned event from the moment the event occurs and is detected to when established operational procedures to manage the event (e.g., business continuity (BC) plans) can be put into service. An emergency notification system is a communications component of an incident management system (and can support the entire BC system as well). It disseminates information about the incident to designated parties, such as employees, company management, emergency teams, first responders and other stakeholders. It can also capture response data, such as "I'm here and safe" messages from respondents.

An automated incident management system/capability is usually part of a larger automated business continuity system and helps support and coordinate the initial response activities that deal with an event. It is not generally a standalone system. By contrast, emergency notification systems may be either standalone systems or integral parts of a business continuity system. They can be hardware-based on-site systems or cloud-based services.

Costs for business continuity software systems range from about $100 to well over $100,000. Costs for emergency notification systems range from under $500/month to several thousand dollars per month for a cloud-based managed services arrangement. Standalone systems range from about $2,000 to about $75,000, based on configurations.

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