Emergency Notification Systems
Full Name:
Minimum Standards for Emergency Telephone Notification Systems

Document Type: Standard
Number: 56-003

Emergency Telephone Notification Systems (ETNS) are fast becoming a necessary tool for public safety agencies nationwide. Large metropolitan areas and communities of all sizes have installed these systems to provide essential emergency information to their citizens. The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) believes acquisition and deployment of these emergency notification systems will only increase with today’s homeland security and domestic protection concerns.

For instance:

  • The United States Office of Homeland Security in its July 2002 Report titled National Strategy for Homeland Security stated that it "would pursue technologies such as ‘reverse 911’ which would call households” to provide information about vulnerabilities and protective measures.1
  • Emergency telephone notification systems started to take root in the middle 1990s for many reasons. Local public safety officials realized ETNS systems could effectively augment other notification methods such as sirens, NOAA Weather Radio, and broadcast announcements.
  • ETNS systems provided the ability to precisely target populations in specific geographic locations better than existing alternatives, particularly when ETNS systems were integrated with geographic
    information systems (i.e., digital maps).
  • The telephone, more than any other communications medium, allows officials to deliver specific actionable information that lets those in harm’s way know exactly what to do, what to expect, or what to look for.
  • The telephone is always on, providing the opportunity to reach nearly everyone within a target area either live or through voice mail.

The purpose of this body of standards titled "Minimum Standards for Emergency Telephone Notification Systems” is to provide guidance to the public safety and private sector communities on operational, administrative and procedural issues – along with general technical considerations - germane to the proper implementation and management of an ETNS system.

The standards are intended to provide a basis for self-assessment and constructive regulation of ETNS system providers. Further, the standards establish criteria for the responsible use of these systems as it relates to emergency management, emergency communications, and community awareness (in general terms).

Committee Name(s):
Standard Operating Procedures

Created: 06/12/2004


Minimum Standards for Emergency Telephone Notification Systems

Related Standards: NENA Wide Area / Statewide Emergency Notification Systems OID

This document contains a variety of strategies, points for consideration, and other operational guidance related to Wide Area and/or Statewide Emergency Notification Systems (WA/S ENS). Used hereafter, the terms Wide Area Notification, Statewide Emergency Notification, and Large Area Emergency Notification are used interchangeably.