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Emergency comms report

Despite a good uptake of emergency communications planning, a significant minority remain passive or have difficulty securing management buy in. That is according to a report from the Business Continuity Institute (BCI).

The BCI notes that among those organisations without an emergency communications plan, two-thirds (63.4 per cent) of them would only consider adopting one after a business changing event, a bit like shutting the stable door once the horse has bolted, the institute says. This could have dire consequences as previous BCI research suggests that business affecting events may often severely affect an organisation’s viability.

Supported by Everbridge, the report concludes that emergency communications remains an essential part of any BC and this research demonstrates that while a great majority of companies are aware of its importance, there are some gaps in implementation that need to be addressed. To be effective, emergency communications plans must be continuously updated to reflect the risks that a business faces and be embedded well enough within the organisation. Relevant training and education, as well as ensuring top management buy in, are necessary in promoting a culture of awareness and reducing the risk of communications failure during incidents. 
Further findings from the report include:

• In a sign of growing awareness, only less than 13.5 per cent of organisations surveyed do not have an emergency communications plan.

• Emergency communications plans are quite comprehensive in their scope. At least 70 per cent of organisations have plans covering the following threats: IT outages (81.2 per cent), fire (77.8 per cent), power outages (76.2 per cent), weather related incidents (75.6 per cent), natural disasters (74.9 per cent) and security related incidents (70.0 per cent). These mirror the top three causes of business disruption as reported by respondents in the last 12 months: IT outages (59.8 per cent), power outages (51.6 per cent) and weather related incidents (47.2 per cent).

• Almost a fifth of respondents (18.7 per cent) belong to organisations where more than 500 staff members travel internationally on a regular basis. More than 30 per cent report travelling to ‘high-risk’ countries.

• Almost two-thirds of companies (64.7 per cent) report having training and education programmes in place related to emergency communications. Most have regularly scheduled programmes (64.2 per cent).

• Around 15 per cent of organisations regularly schedule exercises of their emergency communications plans. Most schedule their exercises once a year (55.8 per cent). This is a worrying finding considering that almost half of organisations are likely to invoke their plans more than once during any given year (49.6 per cent)

• More than 70 per cent of organisations take 30 minutes or less to activate their emergency communications plans. Nonetheless, more than a quarter of organisations (27.4 per cent) do not request responses from their staff in the event of an incident or have defined acceptable response rates (28.2 per cent).

• Social media appears to play an important role in an emergency communications plan. 42 per cent of respondents report using social media to monitor their staff during emergencies and almost a third (31.6 per cent) use it to inform stakeholders.

What they say

Patrick Alcantara, Research Associate at the BCI and author of the report, said: “This survey is seen as the first step toward benchmarking an organisation’s emergency communications arrangements. It is hoped that it will allow companies to take a second look at their emergency communications capability and introduce improvements that will redound to their benefit. Given how emergency communications may improve survival during extreme situations, it is important that organisations take heed and aspire for a robust capability before it is too late.”

And Imad Mouline, Chief Technology Officer at Everbridge, added: “Fluctuating global threat levels, sophisticated cyber attacks and an ever growing mobile workforce present increasingly diverse and complex risks to business interests. In this unpredictable environment, Business Continuity Practitioners are consistently faced with the challenge to plan for the unexpected while ensuring the safety of their staff and communities and protecting their businesses from both financial loss and reputational damage. This survey provides a benchmark for Emergency Communication Planning.”


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