When an emergency situation arises at a school, it's essential to quickly communicate accurate information to everyone who could be affected. Universities typically have a communication plan, also known as a crisis communication plan, in place for this very reason. And crucial to the success of such a plan are the communications tools used to disseminate these important messages in real time. Here's how they help universities share emergency updates, keeping communities informed and safe.
Why a School Communication Plan is Important
When a crisis occurs, members of the university community want to know what happened and how the situation is being handled. In the absence of clear communication from the administration, misinformation can rapidly develop and spread across social media channels and messaging apps, creating confusion amid a climate of concern. Before long, the university switchboard could become overloaded with calls from parents and other anxious community members wanting to know what's going on. From that point on, it can become challenging to coordinate an effective response.
Having an all-encompassing emergency communication plan makes the difference, providing everyone with the timely information they need to stay safe. Proactively communicating with the community also reduces the volume of incoming calls, making it easier for the university to effectively manage the situation. Today's cloud-based communications solutions provide higher education institutions with many ways to keep people informed during an emergency. What's more, these tools themselves are resilient, remaining available in the event of a natural disaster or any other emergency so that schools can stay connected, regardless of weather, notifying the community what has happened — and what they can expect next.
Emergencies are often stressful, but universities can address them proactively and authoritatively with a solid communications plan.
Facilitating Timely, Accurate Emergency Communications
A higher ed institution can rapidly put its school communication plan into action using cloud-based communication tools. In the event of an emergency, a crisis response team often convenes to coordinate a response based on the plan. Team members can quickly join a video or audio conference call in which they implement the school communication plan and activate specific response steps.
Mobile access to video and voice chat provides the benefits of a private voice connection no matter where the crisis response team members might be located, ensuring that they can still fully participate even if they happen to be off campus or traveling that day. University employees that are charged with emergency response duties can also keep one another up to date in real time using group chat sessions.
A university can send out automated SMS text messages or voice messages to students, faculty, and staff, alerting them of the situation and letting them know what they need to do to protect themselves and others. As updates become available throughout the course of the event, they can be pushed out on a regular basis. Anyone who needs to be informed, whether they're physically located on campus or not, will then be prepared with the timely information they need — whether that's to avoid a certain location on campus, to shelter in place, or to assist the authorities in responding to the incident.
Universities can also tap their communications systems to provide proactive, outward-facing notifications and updates in the event of an emergency. For example, the greeting for the campus's main line can be updated immediately to provide information on what has happened, guiding callers on how to contact relevant resources if needed. That way, concerned parents can reach the right department to check on the safety of their children. Members of the media can also easily locate the appropriate public relations professionals who will coordinate the university's public response. If a university happens to have multiple campuses, the other campuses' main lines can be similarly updated to efficiently direct incoming calls.
Communications Resilience in an Emergency
When an urgent situation is unfolding on campus, the last thing a higher education institution needs is to worry whether or not its communications systems will function adequately, potentially impeding university communications with the school community, emergency responders, and the media. That's why it's important to have communications tools that provide high availability, excellent quality of service, and 24/7 enterprise-grade technical support.
A cloud-based communications solution can deliver exactly that kind of reliability, ensuring that no crucial connections are dropped during an emergency. Should a disaster occur, cloud-based communications tools can be securely accessed from any location or device with a high-speed broadband connection, ensuring that members of the crisis response team are still able to put their communications plan into action without disruption. That way, whatever unexpected events may occur, the university is still able to respond in a timely fashion, keep the community informed, and ensure everyone's safety.
Emergencies are often stressful, but universities can address them proactively and authoritatively with a solid communications plan. Cloud-based communications tools play a valuable role in coordinating an effective response, making sure that life on campus returns to normal as soon as possible.
Learn more about how cloud-based communications tools for eduation can help your school stay connected.