We’ve all heard them at some point or another. From department stores to hospitals, paging systems provide for one-way communication to a large audience. Regardless of the broadcast source, a one-way paging system allows the speaker to provide clear, amplified instructions throughout a facility.
As part of any risk management program, prioritizing safety in the workplace is not limited to any single industry. The name itself infers why a device like this would help inform building occupants of an incoming emergency like a fire or burglary. However, other types of systems are used in retail stores, schools, construction sites, manufacturing facilities, and other organizations simply as a way to alert people of a need, such as customer service or simply to move to your next class. But why have paging systems withstood the test of time? And could your business benefit from installing one?
What Are the Benefits of Paging Systems?
We live in a world dominated by personalized communication. Text messages, email, and internet-based messaging platforms are built to communicate one-on-one or in small groups. However, personalized communication falls short in many situations.
We can’t overlook the need for reliable and effective broadcast messages, like those offered by paging systems. These systems provide some unique benefits over other communication forms — so let’s get into them.
Effective Communication in Emergencies
Paging systems are vital in emergencies where you need to contact all your employees immediately. For example, consider a fire, natural disaster, or a potentially dangerous intruder. In these scenarios, sending mass text messages is impractical and ineffective.
While people are used to being interconnected, there are situations where employees, guests, or patients might not be available but must be notified, such as:
- What if you don’t have up-to-date phone numbers for all your employees?
- What if some of your employees keep their mobile devices out of sight or have notifications silenced?
- In a natural disaster, what if the cell phone networks are down? Mass texts require a strong, local telecoms network.
Paging systems combat these issues by allowing you to broadcast messages quickly, reliably, and at scale. Also, the system is hard-wired into your building’s infrastructure, so it’s not dependent on local phone networks and is more resilient against outside threats. At the same time, you don’t have to worry about communication dead zones that could make some workers unreachable in an emergency.
And crucially, page alerts are more likely to grab a worker’s attention. Mobile phones have a noise problem—we receive countless notifications throughout the day, some important and others less so. This means we often wait before looking at our phones, even after hearing the notification chime.
The cybercrime landscape is becoming increasingly hostile. Seemingly daily, new stories of successful data breaches, interrupted communications, or widespread technological disruption at the hands of hackers hit the headlines. As a result, it’s becoming harder to trust that our communication systems will be available when we need them.
Email is a particularly vulnerable communication system here. For example, one report found that 72% of healthcare organizations experienced downtime due to email-based cyber attacks. And more recently, in October 2021, UMass Memorial Health, the largest healthcare system in Central Massachusetts, announced that hackers had breached their employee email accounts for over six months.
Paging systems are more secure than mobile phone messaging and email and don’t typically come on the radar of cybercriminals. They’re also a mature technology (having been around for over half a century), so bugs, glitches, and security vulnerabilities have been ironed out.
Reliable Targeted Messages
Paging systems can be set up to send targeted messages to a specific audience. For example, you might have an urgent or essential alert that workers in one area of your business need to receive but is irrelevant to other areas. You might need to share information with workers in one area of an industrial plant but not others. So you can create different zones and broadcast a message to only those zones.
Paging systems typically have low maintenance costs and are cheaper than signing every employee up for a mobile phone plan. Also, paging systems last longer and don’t need constant and costly modernization. How many workers with dedicated mobile phones still use the same phone as a decade ago?
Paging systems are simple to install, integrate, and use. You don’t have to jump through hoops to send a message to a group of people using complex IT business logic and rules. Instead, the broadcasting process is simple and can be automated.
What Sectors Do Paging Systems Serve?
Paging systems are necessary for hospitals and other businesses taking employee safety seriously, like schools, courthouses, airports, construction sites, etc. Typically, companies in these sectors have an increased need to respond to time-sensitive, urgent messages without delay.
However, that’s not to say paging systems are only useful as a robust approach to safety. They’re used in these sectors and others for various purposes. For example, many retail businesses use paging systems to call specific salespeople to the floor to meet with a customer. They can also be used to announce storewide sales, help a missing child locate their parents, and more.
Paging systems keep hospitals running smoothly because paging works where cell phones don’t. For example, many healthcare facilities have cellular and Wi-Fi dead zones, especially in areas where walls have been built to eliminate X-ray exposure. Similarly, doctors must be contactable even when cell phone towers are down.
Educational facilities use paging systems to share important announcements, issue warnings, and direct students to specific places. And they’re used similarly in large organizations with several buildings spanning one site.
Paging systems allow for smooth and effective communication in the workplace, no matter the sector. And despite the rapid growth in personalized communication forms, like smartphones and email, they remain the most secure and reliable method of mass and targeted communication today.