High-profile bombing, shootings drive MNS market

Demand is also fueled by software that creates uses for MNS for business communications and incident management
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas—The Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandy Hook school massacre and other high-profile incidents are a key reason why demand for mass notification systems is expected to spike 30 percent within five years, according to a new report from IMS Research, now part of IHS.

The need to help protect the public will help drive spending on MNS in North America to $2.1 billion in 2017, up from $1.6 billion in 2013, the report says.

“Very few people die in a building fire anymore” because of advances in life safety, Omar Talpur, report author, told Security Systems News. Now, he said, with incidents like mass shootings and bombings, it has become clear that buildings need more than just a fire alarm.

“It’s really important now for companies [and institutions] to be able to warn their employees and the people in their building what exactly is going on,” said Talpur, an analyst for England-based IMS, whose U.S. headquarters is located here.

For example, Talpur told SSN, “say you’re in a big corporate building and someone pulls a fire alarm. Well, that could be a shooter that just wants more targets walking out into the hallway. … So, it’s part of the bigger approach—someone needs to have video on the fire alarm to see what’s going on and then they can override the fire alarm system with a mass notification system [that gets out the message]: ‘Everyone stay in place. It’s a shooter; it’s not a fire. Lock your doors, take the appropriate measures.’”

Paul Everett, senior manager, security and fire, for IHS, an Englewood, Colo.-based supplier of market research and consultancy that acquired IMS last year, said in a prepared statement: “From Amber Alerts on television to school warnings over the telephone on sexual predators, MNS mechanisms have become a fact of life for most Americans. The need for such systems has come to the forefront because of recent high-profile crimes and terrorist acts that have affected thousands of citizens. Because of this, organizations including commercial enterprises, educational establishments, governmental bodies and military operations all are expected to adopt various types of MNS in the coming years.”

The report, titled “The North American and European Markets for Mass Notification Systems,” estimates that the commercial market was the largest vertical for MNS in 2012 and predicts it will be the fastest-growing segment through 2017.

The anticipated spending surge includes sales for hardware, software and service, maintenance and installation. Development of new software is driving the rapid growth of the commercial market, Talpur told SSN.

He said the new software allows mass notification systems to be used by the commercial market for not just emergencies but also “business continuity reasons.” For example, Talpur said, “the usual use case was to send out mass text messages to employees if something was wrong, but now they can use it for IT notification. The IT guys can send out [a message] to everyone in the building, ‘Hey, IT is down; we’ll have it up at this time.’ They can’t do it through email because the email is down.”

Also, he said, MNS can be used for incident management. “So, say you’re at a factory and a pipe burst. You can have sensors set up that can send out a message to the appropriate people: ‘Hey, this pipe burst in this location. We need you to be there,’” Talpur said. “That’s giving added value to the systems because there really are no laws or regulations right now that force people to get these systems … so the manufacturers and the software vendors have had to give people extra use cases to get value out of the software. … That’s why we estimated the commercial market to be the fastest-growing one [for MNS].”

According to an IHS news release, high-profile cases previously have spurred the growth of the North American MNS market. After the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, a military base in Texas, the U.S. secretary of defense found that the majority of Department of Defense sites lacked the infrastructure to deliver messages through multiple communications channels during a crisis. An independent review recommended that all DOD sites implement MNS, according to IHS.