Disaster Prevention: 5 Tools That Will Pull Any CEO Through

In the current climate, the requirements for emergency and crisis management in companies have become more stringent and more urgent.

This is particularly true if they operate internationally and employ people in countries at risk of extreme weather events or in locations with politically unstable environments.

According to Javier Colado, Senior Vice President, International Sales, Everbridge, this inevitably raises the likelihood of a situation developing that would require immediate action.

IT failures due to cyber-attacks or interruptions in the supply chain can also have an impact, not just on employees, but on customers, partners and other stakeholders too. With increasing use of social media, any perceived failure to respond quickly and appropriately has the potential to damage a company’s reputation and negatively affect sales.

In many cases, organisations are trying to deal with critical events using manual processes and disjointed systems and this is often coupled with access to few resources. This has the effect of hampering efficient and effective management at a time when it is most needed. The best way forward is to devise a plan that is comprehensive, and which can be expanded to cover the various types of crises that can occur, mapped to the appropriate resources and response. This needs to be aligned with critical event management technology that can monitor and visualise a threat in relation to an organisation’s assets and coordinate the appropriate resources. It’s important to remember that a critical event is not always a major breakdown. Financial services firms, for example, may face a crisis if their trading site performs milliseconds slower than normal. Each organisation has to define what a critical event means to them.

  1. Creating a central data hub. Companies should collect all information relevant to crisis situations and emergencies within a central platform. This generally involves two types of data, your assets and things that threaten those assets. Assets can include people, buildings, IT systems, suppliers and other things important to the organization. Threat data, or risk intelligence, can include both public and private data sources like police and emergency response channels, traffic information, weather forecasts, storm warnings, political and civil unrest and even social media.
  2. Automated correlation of threats to assets. In order to use this information to identify critical events and their potential effects on the company’s assets immediately, the asset data must be merged and correlated to the risk event or threats so that the organisation knows what to focus on. This also should involve visualisation of threats to assets so that teams responsible for managing emergency situations can, for example, be able to have a crisis location displayed on a world map in almost real time in their control centre or ‘war room’ and be able to zoom into the affected location. They can then immediately see which buildings are at risk, and the employees who are currently located in those premises.
  3. Automate workflows and use templates. Ideally, the processes defined in the emergency plans will be automated by a workflow system. The use of prepared templates is recommended. If the workflow systems access prepared messages to employees or customers in different languages, companies can gain valuable time. If these messages are not set up until an emergency arises, this will not only take too long, but there is also the danger that errors may occur in disseminating the messages to employees.
  4. Bi-directional communication over multiple channels. Communication to warn those affected and inform emergency services or other helpers should also be automated. In order to ensure the greatest possible accessibility, they are best contacted via several channels – whether SMS, e-mail or voice message. It is important that communication takes place bi-directionally. Through feedback or their absence, the crisis teams know who is safe or whether they need to initiate the next escalation stage. In addition, it should be possible to scale the communication system quickly if, for example, a large number of employees or customers need to be notified at short notice.
  5. Flexibility to cover unforeseeable circumstances. There is always the possibility that events will take an unexpected turn or that crisis situations escalate in a way that could never be anticipated. In order to be able to react as quickly as possible in such cases, the team that is responsible for organizing the response, will need a virtual room to conduct crisis meetings.

The growing range of threats to people, buildings, IT systems, the supply chain and reputation is unlikely to diminish, so the need to ensure the safety of people and maintenance of business operations is paramount. Ultimately, the right technology helps companies to ensure they have the latest intelligence across all areas, visualise the threats to their people and assets and coordinate the appropriate resources to reduce the impact on safety and business resiliency.

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