What’s the Difference Between a Group and a Zone?


Cutting Through the Jargon

If there’s one thing users don’t like, it’s jargon. They don’t want to access some private company dictionary just to understand how a product they are interested in works. At Singlewire, as much as we try to make our InformaCast emergency notification system easy to use, even we fall into the jargon trap from time to time. That’s why we often get asked to explain the difference between a zone and group.

Our software can connect to a multitude of devices and users for emergency notification distribution, but sometimes administrators only want those messages to reach certain people and devices. While we’ll occasionally use the terms “zone” and “group” interchangeably, in this blog post, we’ll outline the distinctions between the two.

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What is a Zone?

The term zone comes from the audio industry, i.e. the people that put in overhead paging systems. A zone is almost always physical in nature and often refers to an area in a building, such as “the office” or “plant floor zone 1.” Defined zones can be used to send live or prerecorded messages to desk phones or overhead IP speakers using InformaCast Basic, InformaCast Advanced or InformaCast Fusion. Designating paging zones helps ensure your message is only sent to the people who need to hear it, which can be helpful in education and healthcare environments where sensitive information doesn’t need to be broadcast to everyone. However, paging zones on their own limit the ways a message can be sent.

What is a Group?

A group, on the other hand, is all about reaching people wherever they are, and can span buildings, departments, job roles, etc. Our device groups are often built by parameters, such as location, department or network segment, coming from either Active Directory or the Cisco Communications Manager.

Pre-building groups makes message delivery quick and easy, and when an emergency occurs, every second counts. Groups also offer greater customization options for how you want to reach people and who you want to reach. Groups are able to receive more than just pages. Messages can be sent as a page, phone call, email, SMS text message, push notification and more. With InformaCast you can send to every device using every method, or just the ones that make the most sense given the situation and the way your organization prefers to operate.

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In both cases, there is no limit to the number of groups or zones an organization can create, meaning they can be as pinpointed or as broad as needed.




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