We are currently looking for an emergency alerting type system, where we can notify staff of weather emergencies or other emergencies happening at the church. In addition to the alerting we would like to have a few panic buttons, mainly for our counselors, in case they feel threatened.
Is anyone using such a system and do you have any recommendations?
We use http://www.littlegreenbutton.com/ as a panic button. Our offices are widely distributed in the building, so this is a good way to bring help quickly if needed. We use the on-screen version only, but there are mechanical buttons that can be attached. The downside is that it is Windows and Android only.
For emergency notifications, we use ChurchCast. It has worked very well. It has many notification options and a very good mobile app. Downside is the cost. We are considering creating our own web application which interfaces with Twillio as a cheap alternative. One potential downside with Twilio is that text messages are throttled to one per second. For a small number of people, that shouldn’t matter.
Edit: I wanted to add that twillio provides a 25% discount to nonprofits and a $500 credit (although I don’t see this mentioned prominently on their twillio.org website now, so maybe that has changed. We received the credit about a year ago.)
We just started using Alert Media but I don’t believe its been rolled out to the staff yet: http://alertmedia.com/. For panic buttons, we actually rolled our own system. You can buy the buttons and the base stations whole sale. When a button is fired is sends an electrical signal to our phone system which calls security. We did it this way because we needed over 50 buttons and this was the most economical way to do it. I wouldn’t recommend it though if you only need 4 or 5.
Our safety team went out to the hardware store and bought a wireless doorbell for our more isolated reception locations. Pretty simple.