Alert Beacon: A New Notification System

Early next year, the Office of Emergency Management will test a new emergency notification system on the East Baltimore campus.
The system, called the Alert Beacon, has been installed in the 2024 Building and Ross Research Building. The beacons fill an important need in buildings that have no overhead announcement capabilities, says Howard Gwon, senior director of emergency
management for Johns Hopkins Medicine. They will ensure that building occupants are immediately notified of an unplanned disaster, such as an active shooter situation, derecho, tornado
warning, earthquake, or chemical or radiation release.
The notification system allows designated personnel to activate
the beacons, sending a verbal and digital message to faculty members, staff members and students that will be impossible to ignore. When an emergency notification is dispatched, the Alert Beacons emit scripted announcements and an ear-splitting signal. Activated beacons also set off high-intensity red strobe lights—to alert people with hearing impairments—and written messages displayed on the screens of the wall-mounted beacons.
The beacons operate through the Johns Hopkins emergency alert system. A test of the beacons is scheduled between 10:30 and 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14 in the Ross Research Building. When the beacons are activated, “We hope that the occupants on the floor will come out of their offices to inspect the beacons to get more familiar with them,” Gwon says.
Next year, Alert Beacons will also be installed in other, as yet unidentified, research buildings in the school of medicine. They aren’t yet scheduled to be installed in hospital buildings, most of which have overhead speaker systems, Gwon says.