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​Putting people first – a principle for emergency communications

Blog post   •   Sep 30, 2015 14:51 BST

‘So what?’ This is a common question I come across when doing industry research.

It is a question posed by many professionals, usually at the most senior levels, and often after I present findings from our research. I have come to expect it actually, and one of the lessons I’ve learned in my career so far is to be able to summarise findings in an ‘elevator pitch’ that will enable decision makers to engage with research.

Applying this to our ongoing research in emergency communications begs the same questions. Why study emergency communications? After all of your findings, so what?

Here’s my take – emergency communications saves lives. It’s all about putting people first when disaster strikes. This is where organizations are tested when they say their people matter, because emergency communications is an extension of that primordial duty of care.

Benchmarking emergency communications allows organizations to look for more effective ways of reaching out to their people. Data from this research should empower decision makers to make choices that allow them to manage crises effectively and save lives.

It is great to know that the vast majority of organizations we asked last year, around 85% of them, had an emergency communications plan. What struck me however, was the lack of consensus on the methods and processes used to reach stakeholders.

  • Almost 70% of organizations still use manual call trees, a method prone to communications failure.
  • Meanwhile, organizations who use crisis phone lines and emergency notification software are 55% and 110% respectively more likely to activate their emergency communications plans in less than an hour.

More importantly, and this is based on more than 10 million real life responses*, organizations who reach their contacts through multiple attempts get a 47% confirmation rate on their first attempt. This is lifesaving data which affirms the principle of putting people first in times of disaster.

The BCI’s second  Emergency Communications Survey, sponsored by Everbridge, seeks to build on this principle and uncover data that helps organizations carry out their duty of care. I highly encourage you to take some time to respond to this survey and help us give valuable insight that might save somebody’s life.

Patrick Alcantara DBCI is the Senior Research Associate for the Business Continuity Institute. He is a senior research practitioner with extensive publication and project management experience, having delivered research for organisations such as Zurich, BSI and the UK Department of Business Innovation & Skills. He is part of the Editorial Board of the international, peer-reviewed Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning. He recently finished his Diploma in Business Continuity Management from Bucks New University and was awarded a Distinction for a Masters by the Institute of Education (now University College London) and Deusto University. 

* based on Everbridge data

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