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Mass Notification Systems for Student Safety

Nearly Half of Students Report Violent Encounters In Schools

For parents and educators alike, protecting the children and young adults in their care is likely the most important thing on their minds all day, every day.

While everyone expects that schools are safe spaces for students to grow and learn, that isn’t always the case. Sadly, during the 2020-2021 school year, there were 93 school shootings with casualties at public and private elementary and secondary schools across the country – the highest number since 2000-2001. Additionally, a 2019 survey indicated that over 40% of all high school students in the United States had at least one violent encounter at school during the prior year.

Other types of non-violent, though emergent, situations happen in schools as well. From 2014-2018 an average of 3,230 fires were reported yearly in schools throughout the country. The majority of these fires occurred during school hours, with nearly 2 out of 5 of them being intentionally set by students. 

Although the goal is to reduce these incidents of violence and emergencies in our schools entirely, it’s important that facilities are equipped to properly identify and respond to a crisis while also providing critical information about threat levels and safety procedures to students, faculty, and staff.

What Is A Mass Notification System?

A Mass Notification System (MNS) is a public broadcast system that provides real-time safety information and alerts to a large number of individuals simultaneously.

Their primary objective is to provide people within a specific geographic area or location – such as a school campus, hospital, or even an entire municipality – with information and warnings about a specific threat or emergency situation.

These systems also tend to provide information regarding the steps that should be taken in order to get to safety.

Although these systems are typically associated with lockdown and fire safety procedures, they can also be used in areas where there are frequent weather hazards, such as floods, earthquakes, or tornados.

Mass Notification System Use Cases

Mass Notification Systems are an imperative system for all school campuses that everyone – from the most tenured administrator to the youngest students – hope are never used in a real-life situation. 

In most states in the United States, fire drills for students are required to take place at multiple times during the school year, and, in recent years, lockdown drills have been added as well. During these drills, Mass Notification Systems are used to replicate a real-life emergency, although there may be some signals to faculty and/or students that the event is just a drill.

Girl in safe school

By practicing fire and lockdown drills regularly, the campus population becomes familiar with the proper procedures and will hopefully know exactly what to do if they’re faced with the real thing. Drills are often practiced at different times of the day so that students who change classrooms throughout the day can experience them from different starting locations and become familiar with various exits. 

Of course, the most important use case is during a real emergency. Whether it’s a fire, lockdown, or weather hazard – such as a tornado, earthquake, or flood – everyone on site needs to be made clearly aware of the threat and should know what to do to protect themselves and others.

Components of A Mass Notification System

In an emergency or hazardous situation, it’s important that all individuals are aware of the situation and know the proper steps to take to protect themselves and others.

Equally important is that these notifications are able to be understood by the entire community, regardless of language spoken or any disabilities. A robust system will provide:

  • a tonal signal (such as a siren or bell), 
  • a voice notification in various languages, and 
  • a visual alert, such as flashing lights or different colors or patterns. 

By ensuring that your Mass Notification System has these three components, you can be confident that your entire population is able to clearly understand that there is an emergency situation. With prior planning and practice (such as with fire drills), your community can become familiar with the various tones, visual signals, and spoken warnings so that they know what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency. 


There are also considerations to be taken about where the system is situated. Indoor systems and outdoor systems have the same ultimate goal and the same components, but the actual equipment used varies. Outdoor systems, for example, are often equipped with a handful of large, weather-proof speakers, whereas indoor systems likely have many (potentially dozens, depending on the size of the building) smaller speakers.

MCA Offers Mass Notification Products from Top Manufacturers like Whelen.

– Outdoor Systems –

WPS 2905 5 Cell Siren

The WPS2905S Omni-Directional High Power Voice and Sirens has (5) Power Amplifiers. This model includes a Speaker Array, Speaker Drivers, 50’ of Speaker Cable, and Pole Top Mounting Bracket.


The VisuAlert option provides a ring of Whelen Super-LED® M6 lights mounted under WPS2900 siren systems. VisuAlert will illuminate with a designed  ash pattern when the siren is activated.

SBC280 Solar Array

This component uses electrical energy collected by pole-mounted solar panels to maintain the station batteries at their proper voltages with a regulator that is temperature compensated.

Type II Electronic Cabinet

Whelens’ 5052 Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Type II Control Cabinet includes Power Ampli er, ESC2030 Siren Controller, 10A 110/120 VAC Battery Charger and RDVM1G Digital Voice Option Board.

– Indoor Systems –

IPS400 / IPS800 Warning System

Indoor tone and voice alerting system with warning tones and pre-recorded voice or public addresses available in multiple languages. Tones and voice warnings are distributed to individual speakers within a building and can interface with current existing intercom/public address system.

WS60T / WS100

Heavy-duty 60-watt or 100-watt re-entrant loudspeaker with wide-angle horn. A mounting bracket is included for vertical, horizontal or stacked installations.


For volatile environments. 60-watt re-entrant, wide-angle loudspeaker that features a heavy-duty cast aluminum housing with a mounting bracket for horizontal or vertical installations, and multi-tapped line matching transformer.


15-watt re-entrant loudspeakers with multi-tapped, line-matching transformers for output adjustment. Ideal for recessed mounting applications.

WS15T / WS30T

Weatherproof, 15 or 30-watt re-entrant loudspeakers with multi-tapped, line-matching transformers for output adjustment. Includes mounting bracket for vertical or horizontal installation.


Heavy-duty, waterproof, 100-watt wide-angle re-entrant loudspeakers with multi tapped, line-matching transformers for output adjustment. Rugged cast aluminum housing w/mounting bracket for horizontal or vertical installations.

L32LRF4 / L31HRF4

When your college campus contains hearing-impaired individuals. These lights aid in warning them via visual signals that can also operate in conjunction with the audible products.

Contact Us

For over 30 years, MCA has provided expertly tailored communications solutions to contractors and builders in need of two-way radios, job-site connectivity, and wireless signal enhancement systems. Our team provides top-tier support for every aspect of your business and mission-critical communications projects from start to finish. Our engineers assess your needs, design custom solutions, and install systems that fit your organization’s exacting requirements.

Download a PDF Outlining Our Student Alerting Solutions

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