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By Terry Swanson
From the June 2024 Issue


Prioritizing safety is not a new concept for any business, but the process of creating safe environments is newly evolving. As threats change, so must the tools a business uses to respond to those threats. Severe weather, violent intruders, cybersecurity attacks, and more can all put people at risk, disrupt business operations, and result in costly downtime. But gone are the days of plans stuffed into binders and phone trees. Businesses need easily accessible digital plans that lay out every step of the process for any potential emergencies and safety threats. That means having a thorough understanding of the effects of those emergencies and having tools in place to properly respond and mitigate their impact.

Emergency Management, emergency preparedness
(Photo: Adobe Stock / artur)

Team Collaboration

Emergency preparedness starts with bringing together the right stakeholders to identify threatening situations that could take place. Different departments may have varying perspectives on what situations can cause the most harm and provide key insights that might otherwise be overlooked. Once situations are identified, it’s critical to discuss how such events can be prevented, and what steps a business will take to respond their occurrence. As events multiply and response plans grow, it may be necessary to implement software tools to help manage the emergency preparedness process.

Software As A Solution

Incident management software can help businesses build response plans for any situations they may encounter with customizable messages that help keep people informed when threats are detected, deliver critical follow-up information as events unfold, and help get operations back up and running following an event. This is due to the software’s ability to integrate with other technology at a business, which can automate processes, drastically reducing the time it takes to alert people of an issue and get them to take action.

Emergency preparedness can come in many forms, and while it is impossible to anticipate every circumstance, there are some simple steps businesses can take to strengthen their facilities to make sure safety is at the forefront.

Preparedness can come in many forms, and while it is impossible to anticipate every circumstance, there are some simple steps businesses can take to strengthen their facilities to make sure safety is at the forefront. For example, businesses are beginning to understand the importance of having a secure entrance. Threats that can be stopped before gaining access to critical areas don’t have the opportunity to disrupt activities or put people in harm’s way. Visitor management tools help businesses establish standard check-in protocols for all guests. By having guests present a photo ID and running it against banned visitor lists and government watchlists, businesses can identify potential threats early. When these systems are connected to an incident management system, it can send immediate warnings to security personnel who can intervene before escalation.

Additional integrations can also provide advanced warnings about potential issues. This can include monitoring National Weather Service feeds for approaching severe weather, sensors that provide information about chemical or water leaks, and even AI-enhanced video surveillance that can identify drawn weapons, people in restricted areas, and slip and fall hazards. The more advanced warning a business can have about an issue, the better chance they have of avoiding major downtime.

Emergency Management, emergency preparedness
(Photo: Adobe Stock / onephoto)

Of course, not all issues can be stopped before they begin, so having the right procedures in place to alert the right people can greatly reduce the negative impacts of an emergency. Incident management software can help organizations deliver targeted messages throughout the entire course of an emergency; helping people understand what’s happening and what actions they should take as well as when danger has passed and normal operations can resume. This can be accomplished by connecting incident management software to speakers, desk phones, computers, digital signage, lighting systems, and mobile phones to deliver critical communications across every available channel. Using text, audio, and visuals delivered to multiple endpoints simultaneously helps increase the reach of messages to ensure that, regardless of where someone is or what they are doing, they’ll receive intrusive messages that communicate the seriousness of the situation with clear instructions for what they are expected to do. Messages are sent and received at faster speeds, which results in faster action, minimizing delays and hopefully reducing the overall amount of time a business is impacted by an emergency. Mobile alerts also help keep remote employees or employees who work off-hour shifts in the loop about ongoing happenings so they can avoid entering dangerous situations.

Preparedness is not just about knowing how information will be shared to keep people safe; it’s about understanding what’s happening and how to respond. Incident management software can provide real-time insights with virtual collaboration, polling, and reporting to help business leaders understand what’s happening, where issues are occurring, who’s safe, and who needs assistance. The more information that can be gathered, the better understanding leaders have so they can spend less time deciphering what’s happening and more time delivering help to those who need it.

Emergency Preparedness Exercises

Emergency ManagementFrom Prevention To Action: The Role Of Facilities Management In Handling Emergencies And Maintenance
This webinar will provide actionable strategies to safeguard your assets, protect lives, and ensure operational continuity. Learn more here.

Another crucial component of emergency preparedness is running drills. Simulating an emergency can help businesses identify potential issues with their plans and familiarize employees with necessary safety procedures. However, conducting drills efficiently can be challenging, especially at businesses with multiple locations. Many businesses still use antiquated spreadsheets or paper checklists to conduct and manage drills, but incident management software can help with this as well. With the ability to assign, schedule, and conduct drills from a digital interface, businesses have an easy way to access and share drill information. As drills are completed, digital records can also be created to help demonstrate compliance.

Creating Safer Spaces

Emergency preparedness is a multi-tiered challenge for any business, but the right tools can make a difference. Digital solutions can streamline planning, make plans accessible from anywhere, and provide an easy way to launch action plans should an incident occur. With the right tools and a comprehensive plan, businesses can protect its operations and employees.

Emergency Management, Singlewire SoftwareSwanson is the president and CEO of Singlewire Software.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section of the online version of this article at FacilityExecutive.com. Or send an e-mail to the Editor at jen@groupc.com.

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