A notification system is a set of protocols and procedures that can involve both human and computer components. The purpose of these systems is to generate and send timely messages to a person or group of people. Simple notification systems use a single means of communication, such as an email or text message. More complex systems designed to send out critical information will typically utilize other methods of communication and may also include human elements to ensure that each person actually receives the message. Emergency notification systems operated by governmental agencies can make use of the phone system, television broadcasts and a wide variety of other communication methods.
The basic purpose of a notification system to alert a person that a particular event has happened. An example of a simple notification system is how a user can configure a website to send an email when an update or other similar event occurs. Computers, phones and other devices all use simple notification systems to alert users to incoming text messages, emails and other events. Most of these systems have only one method of notification, especially if the information that is being communicated isn't considered critical.
More complicated notification systems are typically used in situations where it is very important that people are contacted immediately. Many businesses use some type of advanced notification system to ensure that critical employees will always be in reach. If there is an emergency that requires the attention of one or more employees, the notification system can be activated. An initial contact will typically be made by text message, email or phone. If the initial contact fails, some systems are then capable of moving on to other employees who may be able to resolve the situation instead.
Governments also use complex notification systems to alert citizens to impending disasters or other important events. Two methods often incorporated into this type of notification system are television broadcasts and phone systems. In some cases, the emergency phone system can be used to call the residents of a given area, though this can fail to alert people who do not have land line telephones. Some local governments maintain emergency notification system databases, which can allow citizens to leave cell phone numbers, email addresses and other contact information. There is sometimes a human element present in notification systems as well, in which case people can be expected to alert their friends and neighbors or even a specific list of people.