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SARA - Situational Awareness & Response Technology

Posted by Carlye Boruta 30-09-2015 2:21 pm

News Millenium Micro - SARA - Situational   Awareness & Response Technology

Our world is now full of screens; from desktops and smartphones to tablets and digital signage.  The ability to harness and distribute everyday operational information, emergency alerts, security and environmental information can not only improve life safety but generate improved customer satisfaction and productivity to boot. 

At Shaw Computer Systems we integrate and support technology systems for our customers daily.  One of the tools we implement is the Situational Awareness and Response Assistant, (SARA) - a software and hardware solution that can be deployed in almost any organization to improve communication through automated alerting.  If you can read, hear and see what’s happening, then you can do something about it.  The SARA integrated solution can ensure that any or all of these portals and dashboards can be used to deliver content – from emergency alerts to self-service options.  Situational awareness is all about better managing and delivering content to screens for better outcomes, depending on the customers’ requirements.   Originally a military term referring to a pilot’s operational status and knowledge of immediate threats, “Situational Awareness” is now a broader risk management strategy and an actual technology framework for life safety, security, environmental monitoring and mass notification.  With SARA, any organization can improve communication through automated alerting.  SARA helps prevent operational disruptions, and speeds emergency response in any environment. Triggering events and the corresponding response plans are worked out and predefined in SARA’s modes and actions, ensuring that real-time, detailed notifications reach key individuals, select groups/response teams or entire populations via the designated screens or communication end points - from smartphones to digital signage and virtually any device in between. Real-time and historical reports then let you analyze response times and protocols to identify problem areas and make improvements if necessary. 


For example in factories, warehouses and distribution facilities emergency alerting and response management is critical. SARA increases favorable outcomes in terms of protecting worker safety, preventing equipment failures and inventory loss, and ensuring production uptime in these environments.  Examples of how SARA can be used in manufacturing and distribution facilities include:

• Emergency pull stations on manufacturing/production floors 

• Mobile duress buttons for heavy-equipment operators

• Equipment tracking

• Equipment failure notifications

• Monitoring levels of substances in processes, e.g., ammonia 

• Low-inventory and inventory control warnings

• Glass-break detectors 

• Door/window contact alarms and integration with access control/intrusion and motion detection 

• Integration with indoor and outdoor security cameras 

• Fire panel integration 

• Cigarette busters 

• Water bugs 

• Sensors on eyewash stations

• Temperature sensors in computer server rooms and cafeteria food stores 

• Sensors on boilers, power generators and HVAC systems 

• Smoke/gas detection 

• Inclement weather warnings

• Lockdown or evacuation notifications

• General announcements and reminders or schedule changes


There’s no simple way to determine the exact location of an alarm source. However, SARA deployed on a wireless mesh network, calculates the three closest mathematical matches so an alarm source can be found more quickly.  When a panic button or any monitoring device is activated, alerts immediately go to the appropriate on- and off-site responders, according to preprogrammed alerting protocols and escalation paths.  The application of local mobile duress can be expanded to wider geographic areas with the use of GPS tracking.


The life safety, security, environmental monitoring, mass notification and information tracking and reporting capabilities of this software are a proven and effective way to reduce liability and have a positive financial impact in any organization that deploys it.  Worker and client safety improvements and better responses save lives and reduces the risk of potential legal action.  Advanced security monitoring can save a company money from potential theft and protects property, equipment and people.  Environmental monitoring in a medical fridge saves thousands in lost medication because the alert is dispatched before the medication spoils, potentially deadly chemicals are monitored and detected saving lives of the workers on shift.  Better communication and tracking promote a more cost efficient and productive work environment.  Staff that manually monitor things are freed up to work on other projects and only get notified when an issue arises.  In some cases, SARA has been able to help reduce staff needed to be on shift.


The SARA automated alerting engine provides advanced alerting capabilities, in any form you desire;  from phone calls to texts, video feeds, emails, pop up messages, photos, desktop alerts, pages, to 911 calls out to emergency response teams. SARA solution technology can be used in almost any situation to monitor personal life safety, security, environment, and equipment, with the ability to automate alerts, log responses and provide mass notification.  The world is full of screens. Our job is to help you deliver critical information to any or all of them for better communication and information flow, especially during an emergency.  

Carlye Boruta, Vice President, Shaw Computer Systems Inc., Peterborough, ON