The term situational awareness originated with the military but has now become synonymous with an organisation’s overall risk-strategy. It is used to create a framework to determine how to respond to any event from life safety, security to environmental monitoring and notification.
There is proof that coupling the speed and accuracy of an ‘alert’ to an automated set of response rules is the best way to determine a successful outcome.
Need for Automation
Many businesses have created emergency response plans or disaster recovery plans that are based on individuals responding according to those plans. Businesses run drills or exercises in an attempt to instill the correct process but in any traumatic situation these may not work effectively. And those drills can often lead to fatigue in that it will always be a drill and lead to less desirable responses when required.
With the pervasiveness of computing power and software engineering today, it is possible to automate many of the tasks associated with emergency response to ensure the best response every time.
Situational Awareness and Positioning
Status Solution’s SARA stands for Situational Awareness and Response Assistant. Situational awareness is a risk management strategy that is intended to understand the threat and determine the best way to handle that threat. Today it is used as a framework for life safety, security, environmental monitoring and mass notification situations.
Unlike other systems, SARA uses a wireless mesh network that does not rely on an expensive 802.1 WiFi based infrastructure. Each SARA Repeater only requires local power and connects to the other repeaters and the main server wirelessly. The local power can be from a back-up source (like a generator) meaning that the repeaters will continue to work even during a power outage – when you may need them most.
The building or campus is mapped during implementation. The SARA Positioning System (SPS) uses vector mapping of the three closest mathematical matches to look up its pre-mapped database and can provide specific location information – the lounge, parking lot A, library, etc.
Flexibility to Integrate into any Environment
A key factor is the ability to integrate into any environment, leveraging all types of alerting devices into a single, seamless alerting system. SARA can use a variety of stationary or mobile alerting devices, smoke detectors, temperature probes and more, as well as integrate into existing capabilities like fire panels. And these devices are all wireless, eliminating costly wiring.
SARA can also notify via telephone systems, text messaging, email, paging and more.
With this flexibility SARA can let organisations set up scenarios for almost any event.
A key element of situational awareness is the ability to pre-determine escalation paths based on the type of event. In the case of student on a campus, it would be to send to the security person closest to the area. However, if that person does not respond in a pre-determined time, it will escalate to the next person – another security person, their supervisor or perhaps both. And all of this information would be tracked and reported for process improvement or compliance needs.
Automating these tasks ensures that the organisation always follows the planned strategy in responding to the different events. The alternatives are often code calls or other announcements over paging, for example, that result in many people attempting to respond which may cause confusion. As well as being costly.
Fail-safe through required acknowledgement
This is achieved by programming a set of rules to be carried out once a device has alerted. Once programmed, SARA will always follow the prescribed rule. Generally this involves getting an acknowledgement that the person receiving the notification has received it. If this notification has not been acknowledged, the system automatically escalates to the next notification point.
These notifications can be to one person, multiple people at the same time, via a phone message, text message or email or multiple communication methods.
Reporting and Tracking
SARA times, tracks and can report on all these alerts and notifications.
Whether for compliance or simply to review process, these reports can prove an event was responded as fast as possible. If an alert had to be escalated, the report can show this happened and be used as part of a review. In the case of senior living, for example, if a family member questioned the organisation’s response times, the reports can prove that everything was done correctly.
Right Response, Right time, Right place
Situational Awareness ensures that the right information reaches the right people on the right devices automatically for faster, more efficient communication, especially if there’s an emergency. The inputs and outputs differ, depending on the customer and environment, but the main outcome is always the same: real-time awareness to help prevent loss of life, property, business and convenience.
The Status Solution’s SARA can perform mobile alerting extremely well and cost-effectively. But it can also support many more input devices, making it a very flexible and multi-purpose tool. Once installed for one purpose, the same Server and Wireless Mesh Network can, for example, support door and window opening, temperature out of range alerts (medical fridges), pull cords and water/flood alerts and so much more.
Usually there is one compelling challenge that requires solving immediately and a short term answer using a discrete tool is found. By using a multi-purpose solution like SARA, staff only have to learn and manage one system.