SARA (Situational Awareness and Response Assistant) is a universal alerting engine from Status Solutions that integrates standalone alarm and communication systems for centralized monitoring, alerting, and reporting. SARA converts random alarms into detailed alerts for delivery to key individuals, select groups, or entire populations via the designated devices. Alerts include data about the unfolding situation, approximate location and instructions based on an organization’s predefined emergency protocols.
In 2012, Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) upgraded its life safety and security systems to reduce risk and improve the safety of students, staff, property, and other assets spanning 13 campuses. A request for proposals was issued for a technology solution to centralize and automate alarm monitoring and alerting/incident management, including mass notification, without having to remove and replace legacy systems.
A SARA system from Status Solutions was deployed as part of a technology trial at the Institute of Technology campus in Halifax. During this initial test, SARA proved to be a reliable, flexible, and scalable platform for emergency alerting and mass notification, interoperating with existing alarm and communication systems. NSCC implemented the solution at its other 12 campuses.
William (Bill) Strubank, manager of Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Service (OHS&E) at NSCC, said, “Our emergency preparedness and response system is operationalized with the SARA enterprise system that delivers information in real time so the right response plans can be enacted quickly and correctly.”
In an October 2013 report from the NSCC OHS&E Services department, the goals for the Status Solutions SARA system (then relatively new to the college) is described as: “to enhance public safety by integrating three priorities: mass notification/situational awareness capability; building envelope security (from outside in); and closed circuit television (CCTV)/security system.”
In the report, SARA is also noted by Strubank and his team for its impact on assets not related directly to life safety. For instance: “The SARA system provides the campus with real time monitoring and notification of security systems, alarms, and inputs from critical infrastructure. During this reporting period, a temperature sensor in the large walk-in refrigerator at the IT campus indicated a problem. Staff were immediately notified and repairs made. This notification mitigated a $30,000 potential loss in product.”
At NSCC, based on specific scenarios, SARA delivers automated alerts with instructions to campus security, emergency responders, executives and other personnel, plus students via numerous communication end points, including wall boards with horns and strobe lights in industrial areas. Emergency pull stations and mobile duress pendants given to personnel summon help, including enacting automatic lockdowns. Physical security has been enhanced with sensors on perimeter doors and critical infrastructure areas, and fire panels have been integrated. Environmental monitoring includes temperature and humidity sensors in server rooms, temperature sensors in food stores, and building controls integration to monitor HVAC systems, boilers, and water pumps.
Strubank speaks on the implementation and results in this June 2014 video from NSCC.
Watch a brief video about SARA at this link.