A Brief Overview of InformaCast Emergency Notification System Integrations

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Bring Everything Together

Having an emergency notification system is great, but being able to use it with all your other devices and systems is even better. Part of what makes InformaCast stand out from its competitors is its ability to integrate with a wide range of communication devices, access control systems, and other tools your organization already has. Being able to connect these disparate pieces of technology improves the speed and reach of notifications, making your notification use cases that much more effective.

We are often asked, "how do I connect InformaCast to X?”, where “X” is another piece of technology in the Singlewire ecosystem. In other blog posts, we’ve discussed how InformaCast works with different technology categories, like digital signage systems or overhead paging systems. In this blog post, we’ll take a deeper technical dive into the inbound and outbound integration methods for connecting devices to InformaCast.

Inbound and Outbound Integrations

Inbound integration means a third party device or system is triggering an InformaCast broadcast. The methods for inbound triggers are the REST API, e-mail, RSS, CAP, phone call, and contact closure. Outbound integration means the methods InformaCast uses to trigger to other systems. These include a phone call, RSS, e-mail, an API call, SMS text, and a contact closure.

Learn more about system/thing triggers

Let’s start with the API. The API is often the best choice for triggering an InformaCast broadcast from another system because the API is a direct integration, meaning there is no other system in the middle. An API integration is also advantageous because it provides feedback, making troubleshooting easier. Newer systems tend to be able to produce REST API calls.

Email alerts can be configured to look for a specific word or phrase to trigger an InformaCast broadcast. Unlike the API, an inbound e-mail places an e-mail system in between the triggering system and InformaCast. Adding another system increases the potential for failure and makes troubleshooting more difficult. However, many sensors or systems are relatively basic and have few options for communicating with other systems, often making e-mail the best option because it is the common denominator between each system.

RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a standard for producing a feed from a website. When a change is made to the subscribed web page, those changes are pulled from the system and can trigger a broadcast. InformaCast offers inbound RSS, where InformaCast is pulling information from a web source and outbound RSS, where InformaCast is the publisher.

CAP, or the Common Alerting Protocol, is a message format used by the governmental agencies, like NOAA, the U.S. National Weather Service. Many organizations use InformaCast and its CAP plug-in to monitor for approaching severe weather events in their area. CAP is typically delivered via RSS or ATOM. CAP is helpful because it is a reasonably well defined standard. InformaCast consumes inbound CAP for weather alerts and sends outbound CAP information for other systems to consume, typically digital signage.

A phone call is helpful when sending to or from a telecom system like a phone system or contact center software. InformaCast accepts inbound phone calls via the DialCast feature, via a SIP trunk configuration. InformaCast can place outbound phone calls as well. Users call a specific number, which is tied to message, which in turn is tied to a group that receives that message.

Contact closure gateways are useful for integrating with the physical world. A contact closure gateway has dry contact relays on one side and an Ethernet network port on the other side. Singlewire tests InformaCast with contact closure gateways from Advanced Network Devices, Perle and Barix. Typical use cases include inbound triggers from eye wash stations, ammonia sensors and fire alarm control panels. A typical outbound use case is automatically locking the doors when a lockdown notification is sent, by integrating with the building’s access control system.

As you can see, there are many ways to integrate with InformaCast. If your organization has a device that accepts any of these methods, InformaCast can connect to it. Additional tools like InformaCast Desktop Notifier help expand message reach even further by leveraging desktop computers to receive messages. The integration type that will work best depends on the capability of the connecting system and the desired outcome from your use case. Feel free to contact your sales team at Singlewire to discuss your notification use cases.

 

 

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