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Conexspace to demo outdoor mass notification system in Cottage Grove

“This is a test of the campus emergency broadcast system. For the next 30 seconds, this station will conduct a test of the campus emergency broadcast system.”

Non-emergency tones will accompany this brief bellowing message next week as Conexspace, a local business specializing in sound masking, demonstrates its newest product: the mass notification and emergency communication (MNEC) system.

Located in the Business Enterprise Center, Conexspace is planning a week-long demonstration of an omnidirectional speaker capable of emitting verbal messages up to one mile. Up to three messages per day will be broadcast through the speaker Monday, May 19, through Friday, May 23. Area residents and business owners have been notified.

Manufactured by Lencore, one of Conexspace’s clients, the MNEC system is the latest technology in emergency preparedness, said Conexspace President Steve Rooney.

“The whole concept of this system is to have smarter communication during emergencies,” Rooney explained.

In conjunction with the National Fire Protection Association, the MNEC system is being rolled out alongside the association’s updated code, NFPA 72. The code, Rooney said, sets parameters on how large campus facilities will implement the system.

“For example, if someone pulls a fire alarm, the MNEC system can give verbal and visual instructions of what to do,” he said. “If the fire is in the east side of the building, the omnidirectional speaker will instruct people to use the west exits. It can take over all computer screens and provide you with a map of where you should and shouldn’t exit.”

Invented by the U.S. Navy to communicate with incoming and outgoing ships with inadequate or no radios, the outdoor mass notification system is slowly being implemented at large campuses across the country.

“I think the technology is finally here to have an emergency system that can be smarter,” Rooney said. As gun violence becomes more prevalent on college campuses, “having this system in place, they would have the ability to effectively communicate this emergency.”

Throughout the week, Rooney will also be demonstrating to potential buyers the indoor mass notification system, which does the same thing as the MNEC but inside.

“These products are best suited for large campuses or warehouses,” Rooney explained.

It’s uncertain of the times when Rooney will emit the verbal messages out of the omnidirectional speaker but he said he will have control of the speaker’s volume.

“This will soon be the smartest system to use during emergencies,” he said. “It’s very lightweight, it’s effective and it can cover a lot of territory.”