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Every second counts in a crisis

Every second counts when governments, organisations and crisis managers need to communicate quickly and securely with their staff and communities, writes Adam Enterkin, SVP, EMEA, BlackBerry.

In light of the challenges we faced in 2020 with the covid-19 pandemic and the increasing frequency of natural disasters, having a strong, secure communications strategy has become essential for businesses of every shape and size, across all industries – yet many don’t know where to begin. Here are a few things to bear in mind when (re-)considering your communications strategy.

Knowledge is power

During a rapidly unfolding situation, the exchange of critical information in real time can make the difference between containing a crisis and losing control over it. Whether it is an accident, a natural catastrophe, a mysterious package, or locating the source of a fire, knowledge is power in a crisis. However, in order to respond to an incident or emergency efficiently, it is crucial to have a crisis communications strategy and the right solutions in place from the get-go. Being aware and knowledgeable of what’s going on at all times and how the operations are running is essential for keeping the business active and running, and for mitigating risks.

To be prepared for a potential incident or crisis, businesses need to have a holistic and secure crisis communications strategy, which can guarantee a high level of awareness and connectivity with staff and other relevant groups. Unforeseen business interruptions can happen at any moment, and businesses need to constantly keep up this level of security and connectivity in order to maintain safety and business operations and mitigate the risk of damage to the business or employees’ health and safety. In order to do so, organisations need access to information such as up-to-date contact details and geo-based details, while making sure this information is shared securely.

Constant connectivity and the exchange of critical information between organisations, their people, devices, and any external entities is crucial here, as usually no event occurs in isolation. This requires a networked crisis communication, a strategy that doesn’t only uses a few channels – such as speakers, sirens, calls or texts – which aren’t enough for modern crisis realities anymore, but one that utilises a comprehensive suite of applications, which is device-agnostic and enables effective planning, response and collaboration.

Employees

Employees are a business’ most valuable asset and it is imperative that business leaders are able to communicate with them at all times – whether it be day-to-day or in an emergency. As the most valuable resource, staff need to be protected at all times – not only from an ethical, but also from a legislative point of view, which makes an efficient and effective crisis communications plan an imperative.

Having the required and correct information and communication tools at hand helps leaders make informed decisions to effectively protect their people by being able to centrally manage a crisis. This includes alerting your people across all systems, collecting live information for an increased, situational awareness, as well as accounting for them in times of danger and connecting with trusted partners in your community. With a comprehensive networked communications solution, business leaders can achieve the most immediate and effective response to unforeseen events.

A responsible business

In times of crisis, the most effective organisations are those that are able to not only notify those within their business, but also those across the wider network, whether it be alerting suppliers, external clients or government and emergency services. Providing awareness, critical information, and secure collaboration before, during, and after any natural or artificial catastrophe helps achieve this. Businesses also have to keep in mind that in case of an emergency, they might not only have to communicate with their own community, but also the general public.

Imagine a case of an accident in a chemical plant. Not only does the company need to know exactly where the danger is, how many staff are on the plant, where exactly the staff are located and how to quickly alert them so everyone can get away from the danger and to a safe place, the company also has to alert local residents to ensure everyone’s health and safety. For the operators of the chemical plant, it is critical to maintain a high level of secure connectivity, which can even save lives in an emergency.

The exchange of information and being connected at all times is not only crucial for communications in times of a crisis, but also purely for consistent and effective business communications in general. The pandemic has taught businesses that they need to be in constant contact with their people to maintain business continuity, while also making sure their people are healthy and safe.

Stay connected

The key to business continuity, risk minimisation and staff health and safety is to have a solid and secure crisis communications strategy in place. This lays the foundation for a continuous and efficient, yet effective and simple communication and information exchange with staff and other entities at all times. It also provides the basis for a strong response in case of an emergency, such as an accident or a natural disaster. Having the right tools for crisis communications in place can be the make or break point in a crisis, and ensures that businesses are well equipped for any unforeseen events, from a financial, employee wellbeing and reputational point of view.


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