Communication is crucial in critical event management

Everbridge Australia
Thursday, 04 November, 2021

Communication is crucial in critical event management

Every organisation faces risks that can impact its people and assets. If a risk becomes a critical event, organisations must ensure they have processes in place to minimise the fallout and to quickly remediate and recover.

Critical Event Management (CEM) is detecting an event, acting on it to reduce negative outcomes and, importantly, learning from what happened so you can improve your response for future events. This requires a holistic approach that involves all stakeholders, ensuring they receive the right information at the right time.

If we consider a bushfire, as soon as the fire is reported, firefighting teams need to be mobilised and people who are at risk need to be notified. If the fire occurs in a national park, this might mean informing residents in adjacent properties and visitors to the park. When the communications are executed, the response can save lives, wildlife, livestock, and livelihoods.

In the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks in the United States of America, the founders of Everbridge recognised there was a clear need for an integrated CEM platform that went further than messaging. The company has, over the last two decades, built a comprehensive platform that enables governments, their agencies, and emergency services organisations, as well as private businesses, to streamline their response to critical events by supporting the rapid deployment of emergency teams as well as swiftly notifying members of the public if they are at risk.

Everbridge works with governments, emergency management and public and private organisations in more than 200 countries with its comprehensive CEM platform reaching over two billion people. In September 2021, the Australian Government announced that it would be using Everbridge in its response capability, as part of its EAP4 system in anticipation of the bushfire and cyclone seasons.

But it’s not just governments that can benefit from a CEM platform. Businesses face critical events that impact employees, contractors, visitors and customers. Physical assets including buildings, data centers or IT systems can also be at risk. And business operations, digital applications, supply chain routes and operations need to be considered as well as reputation and share price.

Many organisations will have playbooks written into business continuity plans for how to handle critical incidents. But, in the heat of the moment, it’s possible that steps will be missed or errors are made. A CEM platform can not only outline those processes but automate many aspects, minimising the risk of an error that makes things worse.

The Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) in New South Wales rescues sick, injured, or orphaned native animals. The organisation’s team of around 2500 volunteers helps over 100,000 animals each year with calls peaking at about 20 per hour during the Spring and Summer seasons.

Before implementing Everbridge’s CEM platform, each call required the manual matching of an available volunteer with the right skills, training and experience to the specific rescue situation. With everything from venomous snakes to flying-foxes as well as familiar animals such as wombats, echidnas and kangaroos, they needed to find a volunteer that was close enough and qualified to help the distressed animal.

This was done by filtering a spreadsheet and then manually contacting volunteers until they found a rescuer. Response times varied considerably due to the volume of rescue calls, the location and the availability of volunteers.

Today, WIRES manages all the information centrally with the Everbridge CEM platform. WIRES can allocate volunteers to rescue situations in minutes. When a call comes in, the specific needs are entered into the CEM platform and it automatically finds the most suitable rescuers and sends them a message in a matter of seconds.

Whether the platform is used by a government agency, emergency services or private organisation, Everbridge can send those communications as a text message or a recorded voice message to a phone number. Those messages can be prepared ahead of time using templates, which accelerate the messaging process, or custom messages can be sent for specific situations.

Organisations facing a critical event, such as a cybersecurity incident, systems outage or a physical threat to people and property have similar requirements. They need to be able to identify, act and communicate promptly. And with so many staff working remotely due to the pandemic, having a location-aware system is important.

A CEM system needs to understand where people are so that during an incident, anyone who may be impacted can be informed and given advice on how to act. Everbridge works with the major global mobile carriers and can send messages to everyone potentially impacted during a critical incident. When a message is sent, it can be directed to everyone within the event’s impact zone. This ensures that only the relevant people are sent critical alerts, alleviating the risk of ‘notification fatigue’ that results in important messages being ignored.

Every organisation and government agency has risks that can impact the availability, performance and safety of important assets. Everbridge’s comprehensive CEM platform is essential to ensure public, employee and consumer safety and to help streamline communications and management in any critical event.

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