Today's MNS, or mass notification service, is an important component to emergency management, and subsequently, a required learning milestone on the path to the completion of an emergency management degree. It also has come to serve a growing range of non-emergency needs in addition. What does this service do exactly, and where is it used? Here is the scoop on this mass communication method in emergency management and elsewhere today.
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MNS: The Basics
Generally defined, mass notification services are systems set in place that allow for one or several broadcasters to transmit a digital message of some sort to a large group of recipients. In the emergency management field specifically, this type of mass communication method has been put to use in recent years as a mass broadcaster of emergency-related matters of greater public interest. Information often conveyed through such a system by emergency services can involve warnings and other emergency information about weather events, earthquakes, contagious disease emergencies, critical supplies and services, and many other community-based and greater audiences. In such use, mass communications save countless lives.
As the utilizations of MNS systems as well as technology itself have grown, the range of platforms and users reached by such messaging has also grown exponentially. As of this writing, nearly all devices that are capable of an internet connection or a connection to a phone signal or radio signal are able to receive MNS-type communications automatically. Some devices, however, may need to be manually set to receive these types of communications. In addition, some services require registration beforehand in order to broadcast MNS communications to a user.
As to the specific senders of emergency-based MNS messaging, there are a number of government offices and other organizations that are authorized and setup to transmit via MNS. At the federal government level, the Emergency Alert System is the chief method of mass messaging to the public. At state and local levels of government, the same alert system is also sometimes used in conjunction with a number of others. The National Weather Service is a trusted leader in weather and oceanic alerts. Additionally, any number of other MNS programs have been setup at the private level such as seen in modern college campus alert systems, large company communication programs, and elsewhere.
Aside from emergency and urgent messaging needs, the number of applications MNS is being used for grows steadily. A LinkedIn article on such uses cited five particularly noteworthy, emerging applications for MNS. These five emerging MNS uses include event management, news dissemination, general announcement systems, parent/school communications, and rapid meeting administration.
Looking to the future, there will likely continue to be even more uses for MNS, targeted as well as more general in broadcast aim. Thus far, this concept has certainly proven its usefulness in a variety of areas, emergency and otherwise. These are the basics of today's mass notification service, also an important learning component to the standard emergency management degree encountered in modern academia.