Alert Beacons vs. IP Speakers for Emergency Notification

Beacon and IP Speakers for School Text Alert System Software

Finding the Best Solution

When an emergency occurs, it’s important to leverage every communication tool available to spread information that can keep people safe. As developers of emergency notification software, we often get questions from customers about the best tools to link to their notification software to make sure they are reach everyone with critical information. Two solutions that are often brought to our attention are IP speakers and alert beacons, but which one is the better tool to have in place during an emergency?

In this blog post we will look at the attributes of each to help you determine which might be the best fit for your organization.


An alert beacon is a wall mounted device that uses strobes and sounds to alert people about a crisis event. It can tie into emergency notification systems as well as other devices to communicate information. It also offers plug –and-play deployment to get up and running quickly.

However, beacons are often small, and without the ability to play anything more than a tone, it puts the onus on the person to walk over to view the information displayed on it if they are more than 10 feet away. In a crisis situation, every second counts, so while a tone may alert a person that there is an emergency, being unable to provide any other immediate information can cause unnecessary risk.

IP Speakers

IP speakers can be mounted to the wall or ceiling and can tie into emergency notification systems. They play clear, live and prerecorded audio in areas where it can otherwise be difficult to hear. Some also include digital displays that can include scrolling or static text, visible up to 400 feet. Messages can include everyday announcements, as well as vital emergency communications. Using IP speakers allows organizations to provide information and instructions, in addition to alarms and text. This helps people receive and process the information faster and begin taking steps that will keep them safe. IP speakers are also available in a much wider variety of form factors and capabilities, from large indoor signs to outdoor weatherproof horns. Some alert beacons top out at 106dB, while many IP speakers will broadcast at up to 120dB. This can be key to the message being heard in noisy environments.


Now that you know what each can do, you’re probably wondering how much they cost. Some alert beacon providers will claim that their solution is cheaper than a new PA system, and in some cases, this may be true. However, when we compare the prices of alert beacons to IP speakers, we’ve been surprised at how close they are in cost. So, not only are IP speakers more effective for emergency communications, they are often less expensive as well.

IP speakers are often a better choice due to their superior audio and visual capabilities, as well as their cost. Of course, you can always use InformaCast with any existing overhead paging system in addition to IP speakers.

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