Guest article by Mathias Johnson, Key Account Manager, Hibox Systems.
The time spent on cue validation and decision-making is often the major determinant of evacuation time in emergency situations, especially in hotels, where guests are widely distributed . The responsibility for the hotel staff is to make the guests aware of the emergency in the first place and to make sure they behave as anticipated by communicating safety precautions rapidly.
From a hospitality TV perspective, this means showing emergency messages and sounding alarms or pre-recorded spoken messages on the TV’s quickly, everywhere in the building.
Emergency messaging systems deployed in hotels today often rely on triggering using old-fashioned physical alarm buttons and simple analogue cables to the IPTV server. It has also been possible to automate the transmission of the evacuation messages, based on a relay signal or similar from the alarm control system in the hotel. Although simplicity is a virtue, the traditional triggering and connectivity mechanisms are obsoleted by recent developments in technology.
Sending emergency messages to hotel TV’s is familiar for one building, but what if the guests are scattered in several buildings? If the hotel is a complex comprising several buildings, each building may have its own alarm control system and corresponding signals. Whatever hardware these hotels use for sending emergency messages to TV’s, it should have connectors for several relay signals.
Furthermore, the recent cloud-based hotel TV architectures have raised a new challenge: How to send meaningful emergency messages and facilitate evacuation when the IPTV server hosting the TV’s is located far away, and possibly even serves multiple hotels in several locations? The emergency messaging hardware should rely on IP networks for communication with the server.
Using technology in emergency situations should be straight-forward and simple enough for anyone to master, yet versatile enough to cater for the needs of very different hospitality environments.
Hibox Systems strongly believes that these problems could be solved by applying recent technology in the field of instant messaging from the front desk to hotel TV’s. With a connected device, the messages could be customized for different situations and updated easily on the TV server. A touch screen could provide a friendly and simple user interface that the receptionists are familiar with from smartphones and tablets. Applying SSL-protected web services for connectivity would make the messaging device compatible with cloud-hosted TV systems without compromising in IT security. A messaging device with these rich features would definitely accelerate the evacuation process, increase the sense of safety and well-being for guests and reduce stress and complexity of the emergency situation for the front desk personnel.
The evacuation procedure should be facilitated rather than obstructed by technology.
 D.A. Purser, M. Bensilum. Quantification of Behaviour for Engineering Design Standards and Escape Time Calculations. In: Safety Science 38, 2001, pp. 157-182.