Many public safety organizations are employing various technological systems (i.e., AMBER alert systems, dynamic messaging systems, location-based SMS-messaging, etc.) to communicate varied notification messages to reach different audiences, such as employees, tenants, mutual-aid agencies, customers, and the general public. In addition, airport operators can see how emerging decentralized processes (e.g., social media) appear to reach large audiences quickly and airports would like to leverage those same processes. Other industries have deployed public-notification programs far longer than airport operators and so airport operators may lack knowledge and experience with these programs. Moreover, such programs should be more than a technological solution. Many airports are evaluating or integrating a variety of practices and technologies into their facilities and communications operations to increase safety and public awareness. Whether it is a safety warning or general information, airport operators feel that public notification is part of their obligation to ensure a level of safety on the airport. Yet, public address systems are often inflexible and difficult to understand even under the best of conditions. Airport operators have primarily relied on vendors for current information regarding large scale public-notification systems. Knowledge, current practice, and available technologies need to be compiled and analyzed for gaps and effectiveness that help airport operators to strategically plan and deploy their own airport public notification program. A practical solution for airports should also include procedures, practices, training, and airport policies, and may even be integrated with similar programs in surrounding communities.
The objectives of this research are to (1) gather and summarize information on public-notification program goals, practices, and technologies and (2) develop guidance on planning, deployment, and operation of airport public-notification programs. The summary and guidebook will inform airport managers/CEOs, operations, and communications staff, public information officers, public safety responders, technology managers, and other stakeholders. Airport public-notification programs include technologies, procedures, training, and airport policies and may be integrated with similar programs in surrounding communities. Audiences for the messages from such public-notification programs may include employees, tenants, mutual-aid agencies, customers, and the general public. The summary and guidance should also (1) examine capabilities (e.g., practices and technologies) that are scalable and can be deployed at various types and sizes of airports, as well as unique programs that may be better suited for one type/size airport over another; (2) address emergency alerting as well as general public information on the airport; (3) address diversity (i.e., language, economic, physical, sensory, intellectual, etc.) within each audience and discuss how this is accomplished; (4) examine ways to integrate with existing public warning programs and technologies (i.e., IPAWS, state and local systems, etc.); (5) discuss the efficiency and effectiveness of program goals and practices in producing an intended response or action from the audience; and (6) leverage common technologies that the public is familiar and comfortable with, such as social media. The summary and guidance will address when/how public-notification programs in the airport environment may need to be different from those found in non-airport environment. The analysis of practices and technologies will, at a minimum, highlight considerations such as (1) transference of practice and technology from other (e.g., non-airport) environments to the airport environment, (2) legal context or framework, (3) training requirements, (4) precise audience targeting, (5) barriers to implementation and effective use, (6) technology requirements and interoperability, and (7) airport policy for notification and compatibility with ICS, NIMS, and the airport emergency plan.