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Lockdown | Mass Notification

Lockdown and Mass Notification

What is 'Lockdown' and Mass Notification?

Lockdown is a term used to describe activation of a strategic process to quickly restrict access and egress to a site or building (or part of) through physical measures in response to a threat (either external or internal). The aim of the lockdown process is to prevent people moving into danger areas and preventing or frustrating the intruders/attackers accessing a site (or part of it).

'Mass Notification' a wider used term to describe emergency communication of audio tones, alters and/or voice instruction - examples are as follows: 

School Lockdown and associated Audio Applications

Public Address (PA) / Tannoy: In normal day to day use, the school uses microphones, telephones and an Abletek 'IP Console' (software / PC / WiFi based microphone) to make student and staff announcements accross the site or to specific audio 'zones'.

Class Change: Scheduled, Programmable class change application. MP3 or WAV based audio files are stored for play back through the system speakers throughout the day (physical bells and sounders no longer required).

Background Music / School Radio: A Background Music (BGM) application can be used to target music and/or radio accross large parts or specific areas of the school. Local direct system connection of music/radio sources (eg. CD Player, MP3)

School Lockdown: When a threat, indicdent or intruder is detected, the school lockdown procedure is initiated. The system can be activated in a number of different ways:

Multi-audio Application School Lockdown System:

School Lockdown

Lockdown: Emergency Communication

Rapid and effective communication, combined with clear and robust lockdown / mass notification policies and procedures help to ensure swift action is taken to mitigate and minimise risk or harm.

NaCTSO Guidance Note 1/2015: The following is a guidance note from the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office:

Communication: Various options exist depending on the nature and occupancy of the site, these include;

Abletek Lockdown and Mass Notification

Abletek are industry leading audio design and installation specialists, offering a wide range of technical and functional audio applications to commercial, industrial, schools & education, retail, healthcare, hospitality and local authority sectors.

Combining Abletek application development with traditional and newer IP audio technologies, devices and products, Abletek is uniquely positioned to specify, design and install functional lockdown and mass notification communication system solutions to meet the demands of government, NaCTSO guidance.

Design and Installation Elements: 
Existing Public Address (PA) / 'tannoy' Installations may contain the basis of audio and functional requirements to meet some of the needs and principals of a lockdown or mass notification system solution. Those that don't, can often be expanded, re-designed and/or improved. New installations can be designed and installed to provide to meet the specific audio and functional elements of a lockdown or mass notification system solution.

Coverage: Working closely with our customers and local security/design authorities to calculate loud speaker quantities and locations to ensure coverage to specific and wider areas.

Volume Levels: During operation, a lockdown or mass notification system should provide clear audio with volume levels configured 'intentionally intrusive'. We design and configure volume levels so that they are intentionally higher than other functional or competitive audio - this includes ambient background noise, background music and general public address/PA audio levels. This is done to ensure the lockdown or mass notification message/notification is heard and not misheard or confused.

Full or Partial Lockdown: Most buildings or sites are likely to require site wide lockdown or mass notification. However, for large sites, or those with multiple buildings, we are able to target audio to certain areas (known as zones), creating a partial lockdown in support of a phased lock down procedure.

Stored / Pre-recorded Messages: To provide consistency and compliance to defined local lockdown or mass notification policy, playback of stored audio file messages are regularly used.

Activation / Trigger: Following the decision to instigate a lockdown, the stored / pre-recorded audio messages need to be activated or triggered. This is often provided by physical buttons or switches that are strategically positioned for access by management or respective nominated / responsible staff. As an alternative or in addition to physical buttons, we can offer integration to almost any device or system that can provide a switch or relay contact change (for example, alarm systems and building management systems).

We can also offer PC / browser / smart phone software button activation and triggering of stored audio and message files. This is an increasingly popular design option to provide location flexibility for triggering the lockdown or mass notification.

Lockdown and Mass Notification: (example project)

A recent example of a lockdown and mass notification project for a major hotel client: (more, click HERE)

Mondrian - London
Mondian Hotel London

Our customer operates a multi-national luxury hotel network. The 15 floor, Mondrian Hotel sits in the very heart of London, directly on the river themes within the iconic Sea Containers building. Our brief was to design and install an IP based multi-audio solution that would connect and integrate seamlessly with the existing IT, IP network infrastructure. The IP based design solution was chosen to provide operational and functional 'zoning' flexibility whilst limiting fabric damage and disruption to the running of the hotel during the installation phase of works. Our solution should also integrate with a number of existing Bose Control Space systems in the provision of background music (BGM).

  • Public Address (PA) / Tannoy
  • Background Music
  • Hotel Lockdown and Mass Notification
  • Message Store / Playback

Installation of a new IP audio solution design, IP speakers and IP microphones. Re-design of Bose Control Space system design and supporting routing matrix software to provide control and coverage to:

  • All 'front of house' guest areas; bedroom corridors, bars, restaurants, studios, spa, meeting rooms and Staff areas
  • All 'back of house' staff areas; kitchens, canteens, maintenance, offices, security areas



Commercial Audio Applications: For more about lockdown, mass notification and wider commercial audio applications, click HERE.