Mass notification system demand soars

According to a report from IMS Research, spending on MNS in North America is expected to rise to $2.1 billion in 2017, up from $1.6 billion in 2013.


IMS Research (acquired by IHS, Inc.)In the wake of the Boston bombing manhunt and the Sandy Hook massacre, governments, schools, and other organizations are turning to mass notification systems (MNS) to help protect public safety, which will spur the North American MNS market to expand by 30% from 2013 to 2017.

Spending on MNS in North America is expected to rise to $2.1 billion in 2017, up from $1.6 billion in 2013, according to a new report entitled “The North American and European Markets for Mass Notification Systems” from IMS Research, now part of IHS. The figure below presents the IHS MNS spending in North America, consisting of hardware, software and service, maintenance, and installation. 

Source: IMS Research (acquired by IHS, Inc.)

MNS systems represent various methods of disseminating or broadcasting messages to notify groups of people about emergency situations or other events. These systems range from large-scale outdoor speakers used for transmitting audible messages over sizable areas, to software than can deliver notifications to thousands of users via methods including text messaging, e-mail, TV, push notifications, or through phones lines, such as reverse 911.

“From Amber Alerts on TV, to school warnings over the telephone on sexual predators, MNS mechanisms have become a fact of life for most Americans,” said Paul Everett, senior manager, security and fire, for IHS. “The need for such systems has come to the forefront because of recent high-profile crimes and terrorist acts that have affected thousands of citizens. Because of this, organizations including commercial enterprises, educational establishments, governmental bodies and military operations all are expected to adopt various types of MNS in the coming years.”

MNS market drivers

Past experience has shown that infamous terrorism or criminal events can drive the growth of the North American MNS market.

For example, in response to the Fort Hood shooting in November 2009, the U.S. Secretary of Defense issued a set of recommendations based on an independent review of the shooting by the Dept. of Defense (DoD). The independent review concluded that the majority of DoD sites lacked the infrastructure to deliver messages through multiple communication channels during a time of crisis. The review subsequently recommended the implementation of MNS at all DoD sites.

MNS types

Major types of MNS hardware include:

  • Giant voice systems, which employ loudspeakers in outdoor areas
  • Notification devices, which connect to fire and life safety systems, and convey emergency audible and/or visual messages to building occupants. Devices here include speakers, sounders, sirens, strobes and bells.
  • Voice modules, which are devices that can be installed as add-on features to fire-control panels, enabling location-specific emergency communications via prerecorded messages and manual paging.
  • Help points, which are free-standing columns that house a phone or intercom system with a visual device on top, usually a blue light.

MNS also encompasses a range of software products.  MNS software is deployed on-premise, via a service model known as Software as a Service (SaaS), or as a hybrid model.

Applications for MNS

The major markets for MNS in North America are assembly, commercial, education, government, health care, industrial, military, transportation, and utilities.

The commercial segment was estimated to be the largest vertical market for MNS in 2012, and is also forecast to be the fastest-growing segment through 2017. Health care is projected to be second in size.

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