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1 Background Many airport personnel and stakeholders work in unique environments. Both groups must be prepared and able to respond rapidly at any given moment to any incident, event, or emergency. Often the response depends on the airportâs ability to deliver accurate and effective notifications. Airport audiences are the recipients of airport notifications. It is important to recipients needing notifications that they feel the airport is capable of delivering the necessary notifications when needed. If proper and timely notifications are not sent, recipients may feel frustration, confu- sion, anxiety, or fear. They may even be placed in danger resulting in injury or death. Although the response to many events could benefit through better notifications procedures, catastrophic incidents like the bombings at Kingâs Cross Station in London and the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, have precipitated a renewed focus on improving notification systems and processes. As one of the most important forms of communication at an airport, notifications need to be a high priority, and airports are advised to focus continually on their notification capabili- ties. ACRP Research Report 170: Guidebook for Preparing Public Notification Programs at Airports has been prepared as a tool airports can use when developing and improving their notification programs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) breaks down emergency manage- ment into four primary categories: preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Notifi- cations can be described as the bridge between preparedness and response (Figure 1-1). No matter how prepared one is, one cannot get from preparedness to response without a notifica- tion taking place. When tragedy happens, the greatest loss of life and property occurs in the time between the event and the response. Airports need to prepare so that they are always ready to provide noti- fications and respond quickly. Airports need to recognize and address the importance of timely and effective notifications. If asked, any airport professional will say that good communication is always one of their biggest challenges. Effective communication is often an under-addressed area. This becomes apparent when reviewing post-event evaluations, debriefs, and After Action Reports (AARs), in which notification is almost always identified as an area needing improve- ment. Timely and effective response to an emergency or an incident is critical. Such a response can only take place with effective and accurate notifications. Effective and well-designed public notification programs at airports can play an important role in an airportâs ability to manage and recover from a disruptive event or situation. If airport notification plans are isolated, scattered throughout different departments and sections, or held by different airport personnel, it is difficult to determine who has what responsibility or what procedures are available and appropriate for use. For example, if maintenance has notification Guidebook Objective and Methodology C h a p t e r 1
2 Guidebook for preparing public Notification programs at airports procedures for system failures, operations has air traffic control notification procedures, and police and fire have mutual aid notification procedures in the Airport Emergency Plan (AEP), it could be difficult to know when a certain procedure would be used, how it would be used, and who would use it. A lack of common understanding and coordination between the groups often causes confusion and ultimately concern. To help provide a solution to departmentalized or isolated plans, a few airports indicated that they were in the process of incorporating their many plans into a single, comprehensive plan. The development and use of a comprehensive program instead of multiple, isolated plans is worth considering. In the course of daily operations, airports make notifications to various audiences, among them airport employees, airline employees, government agencies, public safety organizations, and concessionaires. Some of these notifications are routine, while other notifications take place during emergencies and therefore are critical to ensure the safety and security of the airport com- munity and the traveling public. To make notifications, airports use a variety of methods, tools, and technologies to reach their intended audiences. It is important for airport management to understand how other airports send notifications in order to learn established industry practices and to develop notification solutions that will work with their specific situation and meet their particular needs. Airports also can learn from the notification practices of other industries to determine what may be applicable in an airport environment. Guidebook Objective The objective of the guidebook is to communicate industry standards and effective practices that will provide airports the resources necessary to assess, plan, develop, formalize, and imple- ment public notification programs. A one-size-fits-all approach to airport public notification is neither realistic nor recommended, because every airport is unique. As a result, this guidebook addresses how public notification programs can be customized by airports of different types, sizes, and configurations. Intended Audience Airports of all sizes, including small, medium, large hub, and non-hub airports, can use this guidebook. FAAâs Categories of Airport Activities defines airport size as follows: â¢ Non-hub primary: airports handling over 10,000 but less than 0.05% of the countryâs annual passenger boardings; â¢ Small hub: airports with 0.05% to 0.25% of the countryâs annual passenger boardings; â¢ Medium hub: airports handling 0.25% to 1.00% of the countryâs annual passenger boardings; and â¢ Large hub: airports handling over 1.00% of the countryâs annual passenger boardings. Figure 1-1. Bridge between preparedness and response.
Guidebook Objective and Methodology 3 This guidebook is intended to help airports plan and implement public notification programs to reach all desired audiences. Just as every airport is unique, so too are the combinations of audiences who require notifications from the airport. Definition of Public Notification For the purposes of this guidebook, public notifications are defined as one-way messages that are sent outbound from the airport and designed to communicate a message to a select audi- ence. Given this definition, a distinction must be made between notification and communica- tion. Notifications can be sent using a variety of tools and systems such as telephones, two-way radios, email, text messages, and so forth, which, taken together, are often classified using the word âcommunications.â This guidebook covers tools and systems that have communications functionality; however, the focus is on the delivery of the notification by the airport to particular audiences and not on the sending of a return message by a notification recipient. Guidebook Development Methodology Multiple research tools and techniques were used to develop the guidebook: â¢ An extensive literature review was conducted and current plans, procedures, best practices, and lessons learned were gathered. Literature sources included government documents, research, and standards; association documents and standards; presentations and white papers about public notification systems from manufacturers; articles in professional journals; public noti- fication plans from multiple industries and organizations; ACRP research guidebooks; and research reports written for multiple industries and organizations. â¢ Surveys were sent to small, medium, and large airports to learn about existing public notifica- tion program elements. Other ânon-airportâ industries, such as power generation and distri- bution companies, hospitals, colleges, universities, stadiums, and arenas, also were included in the survey based on their particular need for public notifications. â¢ Case studies were conducted to examine notification programs and situations in a number of different environments. Four of the case studies were conducted at airports and two case studies were conducted outside of the aviation industry. The complete literature review, survey questions, data analysis, and case studies are available in the Contractorâs Final Report for ACRP Project 10-25, which is available on request. Guidebook Overview The guidebook is organized into seven chapters and five appendices, as follows: Chapter 1: Guidebook Objective and Methodology; Chapter 2: Critical Decision-Making Areas for Program Development; Chapter 3: Conducting a Needs Assessment; Chapter 4: Exploring Options; Chapter 5: Developing the Program; Chapter 6: Formalizing the Program; Chapter 7: Implementing the Program and Managing via Continuous Improvement Cycles; Appendix A: Notification Tools and Methods; Appendix B: Benefit/Effort Matrix; Appendix C: Notification Templates and Scripts; Appendix D: Sample Notification Program Template (NIMS Format); and Appendix E: Overall Program Decision Guide (OPDG).
4 Guidebook for preparing public Notification programs at airports The guidebook takes the reader through a logical process for developing an airport public notification program. This guidebook will assist airports without an existing public notification program to learn the components of creating a program. Airports that have an existing public notification programâor elements of a programâcan choose what sections to read based on their particular needs. Chapters 3 through 7 end with chapter-designed resource tools to give airports a practical view approach to the overall process flow discussed in each chapter. For each development step, a folder icon like the sample in the margin on this page identifies the related chapter resource tool or indicates an appropriate appendix. The OPDG provided in Appendix E also includes resource tools that airports can use to assist in the documenta- tion of the final decision-making process for the development of a comprehensive stand-alone notification-specific program. Guidebook Limitations This guidebook has been developed to assist airports in developing, implementing, and main- taining a public notification program. Recognizing the diversity among airports, the guidebook cannot definitively tell airports what they must put in place. Each airport has different needs, resources, and operations, and must therefore customize a public notification program to their specific situation. The resources provided throughout the guidebook were developed using suc- cessful industry practices and are provided as tools to aid airports in the process of building a comprehensive notification program. Legal, regulatory, and standards requirements must be taken into account when develop- ing an airport public notification program. Any of the laws, regulations, or standards related to public notification may be changed at any time. Airports must ensure that they have the most current information possible, including the most current versions of applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, or standards. Public notification programs increasingly rely on information technology and other technol- ogy to reach their intended audiences. Rapid technological change and the introduction of new equipment, systems, and computer programs suggest that specific descriptions contained in this guidebook may quickly become outdated. It is recommended that airports interested in any equipment, systems, or computer programs described in this report contact the manufacturers to obtain the most current and accurate information. Moreover, the systems and equipment described in the guidebook reflect information obtained in the course of the project research. Given the varied needs of different airports, their inclusion in this guidebook does not constitute an endorsement for adoption or use by any specific airport.