We use it for the email integration portion.
We use it for the email integration portion.
We've created fake units in the CAD system and, when activated, it sends an email to Everbridge. That has allowed the dispatchers to send out quick notifications. Before, they'd have to log into Everbridge, find the right thing, fill it out - do the full Everbridge thing - which always got deferred to later because they were busy doing other things. By creating the fake unit in CAD to trigger the email integration, all they have to do is assign a unit using the system they're already working in and it will send out the raw information from the call. That's been helpful so that the command staff gets quicker notifications of things.
The initial reason we got it was the lightning protection integration. We had a guy struck by lightning at the airport about a year and a half ago. Our lightning system was going off but this provides an extra layer of protection. With it, all the people who have signed up for that notification automatically get an Everbridge notification on their phone as soon as the thing goes off. They know, "This is active, I should do something about that," instead of relying on the horns and sirens that the lightning system uses. It's hard to quantify. We haven't had anyone struck by lightning since, but we hadn't had anyone struck by lightning before either. It is just an extra way for our tenants to be able to be in the loop on what's happening.
The lightning integration has been really helpful, especially for our maintenance department. It was intended for tenants and stakeholders. But the maintenance department, because they're out in the field all day, their director said all their work phones get it, no matter what. Before, they were running around trying to find people to tell them, "Lightning is on," to make sure they were shutting down. Now, everybody out there in the field who has a phone, and almost all of them do, immediately knows the lightning system is active and that they need to shut down.
The email integration, the ability to launch from other programs using email triggers, was the primary reason we got the solution and it's been really helpful. We've been able to integrate our CAD system into it using it. The CAD system is kind of old and it doesn't like to talk to things so the integration is useful.
We also have a lightning protection system and were able to integrate it using email. The lightning was our main purpose for upgrading to IT Alerting but we have found other uses for it since then.
It does have a pretty steep learning curve, especially if you're trying to parse information, instead of just sending it raw. Learning the Regular Expression language, to try and get it to pull out what you want, is a pretty steep learning curve upfront. The steep learning curve is specifically for IT Alerting, its features. And, for the API integrations, you've got to know how to write the REST API code if you want to use them.
The Everbridge system itself was fairly straightforward to learn.
An incident management feature would be nice because, as it stands now, you select different items when you're filling out a form to launch a notification. If those were more conditional it would help. Right now it just puts out whatever you put into the form, whereas, if you could specify a "yes" or "no" and it would input a different verbiage depending on the case, that would be nice to have, instead of having to spell out all the verbiage.
The only thing our users want, because they work 12-hour shifts and it times out if they're not using it, would be to stay logged in for at least 12 hours before it times out. The max is eight hours right now.
We haven't had any issues with stability. For the product as a whole, we have had one delayed notification and we've had the product for two and a half years now. We called support on that one and found out they were having a nationwide problem but it was fixed within two to three hours. They sent out a root-cause analysis a couple of hours after that, explaining to us what happened. They're pretty responsive.
That's the only delay we've had since we've had the overall Everbridge product.
In this budget cycle, we just purchased some more seats for notifications and we're trying to get all of our in-house staff on it. It was pretty simple. We called them, we told them what the deal was. They were willing to work with us, to work with it in the budget cycle process. As far as scaling up and working within the budget cycle, they understood all that and were really helpful in getting it worked out.
We don't have that many problems with Everbridge. The couple of times I've had to engage with tech support they've gotten right back to me, helped me figure it out. Even the one time it was something I was doing wrong, they were able to point me in the right direction and get me squared away. They replied quickly. I don't have anything bad to say about them.
We were using CodeRED. We needed some of the functionality Everbridge had that CodeRED didn't have. CodeRED was fairly solid and was a heck of a lot cheaper, because we were piggy-backed on with our Sheriff's Office. But the functionality of the internet management portion of Everbridge outweighed the cost difference.
The initial setup was pretty straightforward. Everyone on the implementation team had a good understanding of it and, once Everbridge turns it on, they let you play with it, so that's good. And then they sent out a team to do training. We had a pretty good handle on it, so the training was more addressing our questions. They turned it on about a week before the training crew got out here, to let us start messing around in it. We were able to figure it out, so by the time the training crew got here, it was more like questions and answers, except for our PR staff who hadn't played with it at all. They got a full top-down, step one, step two, training, whereas the Admin folks got a bit more Q&A. They were really adaptable to what were trying to do.
We thought the base product was pretty reasonable. It can pricey once you start adding stuff on, but that's the same with anything. We have scaled up almost every year. We bought the base, 500 contacts, the thing they sell to airports, in our first year. Then we got the IT Alerting because we needed the email integration stuff and some of the scheduling features. This year we've gone up another step in contacts, from 500 to 1,000. We're investing in the system.
We were okay with CodeRED. The user interface was kind of clunky for how we were using it with the dispatchers. But that was more because of how we were doing it. For some of the commands, at the time, they didn't want electronic-sounding messages so they were making the dispatchers verbally record every message. Once we went with Everbridge, we got the command staff to be okay with electronic sounding messages; Everbridge is reliant on electronic messaging. Before, for whatever reason, they wanted voice messages and that's what CodeRED did really well. But it required a dispatcher to record it and it was a whole thing. Once we got everyone convinced that text messages are reliable, and that they'll get an email if the text message doesn't work, that there's an app - all that - it was a pretty easy sale after that.
Also, CodeRED called everything you had at the same time. With Everbridge you can have it switch methods every five minutes. CodeRED was "call everything, every time." It called your house phone, your cell phone, your work cell, your personal cell, your dog's cell, your cat's cell, your wife, your daughter. It called them all, all at the same time. That's why it was called CodeRED, because your whole house went on fire. IT Alerting can be set to call just one phone at a time. That was a big sell too.
Dig into the resources they have, like Everbridge University. Don't rely completely on the on-site training because it's only one day. The best way to learn is by doing. You need to get in there, push the buttons, pull the triggers, etc. My advice would be, when they turn it on, get in there and put in a couple of contacts and start sending messages, to get used to the interface. Take their online stuff, use all the resources they give you. Don't just rely on that one day of on-site training they provide, that's not going to do it for you.
You can go into Everbridge University and type in, "I want to know how to do 'x'," and there will be modules on how to do that. You can watch the courses and it gives you enough to get in there and start figuring it out. There is also an interactive user community.
We haven't gotten much into the API stuff. We need to. We're starting to use scheduling a little more. With our police and fire department and the air-com staff, the staff that I manage, we're trying to get more people involved with it. Because the scheduling is its own thing and it doesn't integrate with how they schedule their staff, it's been a little difficult getting them to stand that up. But that's more just trying to find someone there who is willing to keep that schedule in Everbridge up to date so we can make sure we're not waking up people who shouldn't be woken, and that we're alerting the people who need to know. That's what we're focusing on now.
We like it. It works great. If you ask the dispatchers who do 90 percent of the launches, it's leaps and bounds better than what we were doing before. Back then, they were having to call in and type in all these codes and verbalize the messages. If they misspoke they had to hang up and start over. It was a giant pain. With Everbridge, it's just fill out the form. If "x" is happening you click on that form, you fill it out and hit Go and it goes. You don't have to worry about whether the right person will get it because that's all been pre-programmed. They really like the ease of use.
This has been one of the better products that you buy off the shelf because it just works. With almost everything you buy that requires as much customization as something like this does, you're going to have problems, but we've had very few with Everbridge. It just works.