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Don’t wait for an emergency to prepare an emergency communications plan

Press Release   •   Nov 05, 2014 07:48 GMT

A newly published report from the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) highlights that, while overall results indicate a good uptake of emergency communications planning, a significant minority remain passive or have difficulty securing management buy in. It is worrying to note that among those organizations without an emergency communications plan, two-thirds (63.4%) of them would only consider adopting one after a business changing event, a bit like shutting the stable door once the horse has bolted. This could have dire consequences as previous BCI research suggests that business affecting events may often severely affect an organization’s viability.

Supported by Everbridge, the report concludes that emergency communications remains an essential part of any BC programme 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. In order 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 organization. Relevant training and education programmes, 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% of organizations surveyed do not have an emergency communications plan.
  • Emergency communications plans are quite comprehensive in their scope. At least 70% of organizations have plans covering the following threats: IT outages (81.2%), fire (77.8%), power outages (76.2%), weather related incidents (75.6%), natural disasters (74.9%) and security related incidents (70.0%). These mirror the top three causes of business disruption as reported by respondents in the last 12 months: IT outages (59.8%), power outages (51.6%) and weather related incidents (47.2%).
  • Almost a fifth of respondents (18.7%) belong to organizations where more than 500 staff members travel internationally on a regular basis. More than 30% report travelling to ‘high-risk’ countries.
  • Almost two-thirds of companies (64.7%) report having training and education programmes in place related to emergency communications. Most have regularly scheduled programmes (64.2%).
  • Around 15% of organizations regularly schedule exercises of their emergency communications plans. Most schedule their exercises once a year (55.8%). This is a worrying finding considering that almost half of organizations are likely to invoke their plans more than once during any given year (49.6%)
  • More than 70% of organizations take 30 minutes or less to activate their emergency communications plans. Nonetheless, more than a quarter of organizations (27.4%) do not request responses from their staff in the event of an incident or have defined acceptable response rates (28.2%).
  • Social media appears to play an important role in an emergency communications plan. 42% of respondents report using social media to monitor their staff during emergencies and almost a third (31.6%) utilise it to inform stakeholders.

Patrick Alcantara, Research Associate at the BCI and author of the report, commented: “This survey is seen as the first step toward benchmarking an organization’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 organizations take heed and aspire for a robust capability before it is too late.”

Imad Mouline, Chief Technology Officer at Everbridge, commented: “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.”

This is the first dedicated piece of research into understanding the Emergency Communications Plans of a wide range of organizations and learning how these are integrated within wider recovery programs. The results supports the anecdotal feedback from the industry, demonstrating that Emergency Communication Plans form an established, vital element of continuity plans for mid to large size enterprises while also offering some practical ideas for those looking to improve their capabilities in this area.

Ends.

For further information on this or the BCI, please contact the BCI Senior Communications Manager – Andrew Scott – at andrew.scott@thebci.org / 0118 947 8241 / 07800 552240.

Notes

  • Download a full copy of the report by clicking here.
  • Note to the online survey: 684 respondents were from 81 countries, the majority of whom were from outside the UK.

About the Business Continuity Institute

Based in Caversham, United Kingdom, the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) was established in 1994 to promote a more resilient world and to assist organizations in preparing for and surviving minor and large-scale man-made and natural disasters. The Institute enables members to obtain guidance and support from their fellow practitioners, as well as offers professional training and certification programmes to disseminate and validate the highest standards of competence and ethics. It has over 8,000 members in more than 100 countries, who are active in an estimated 2,500 organizations in private, public and third sectors. Further information about the BCI is available at www.thebci.org

About Everbridge

Everbridge provides a unified critical communication suite that helps clients be better prepared, make better decisions, and respond quickly and confidently during disruptive events. When an incident happens, whether it’s a natural disaster or an IT service outage, Everbridge automates communications to ensure that the right messages get to the right people at the right time.
Named a leader in Gartner’s latest magic quadrant for emergency and mass communications, Everbridge solutions are utilised by clients in all major industries and government sectors to connect with over 50 million people around the world.

Since being founded in 2002, Everbridge has experienced rapid growth year upon year, adding 480 new customers to its client base in 2013 alone. In March 2014, Everbridge acquired UK based provider, Vocal. This industry defining acquisition means that over 3000 organizations, in 110 countries, are now sending over 150 million messages per year via the Everbridge unified critical communications suite, supported by 250 local staff in 7 international offices.

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