Know Your Systems Work
Many solutions are currently available that promise getting critical information into the hands of people who need it during an emergency. However, simply setting up the tool does not guarantee it will work as advertised.
Testing regularly helps ensure successful deployment when they need to be used in real-world situations. Creating a testing plan that works in conjunction with emergency communication strategies helps build familiarity throughout organizations. This can assist in avoiding costly mistakes.
Errors Can Hinder Clarity
Even on the largest scale, errors can prevent smooth deployment of emergency communications. This was an issue the French government encountered during the terrorist attack in Nice in July of 2016. In anticipation of the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament being held in France, the French government launched an emergency notification app to keep people informed should an incident occur. However, according to the Huffington Post, during the attack, people using the app did not receive any information until nearly three hours after the attack commenced. The app, which uses geolocation to determine who to send alerts to, told users in Nice there were no incidents occurring during the attack.
A similar issue occurred in Kalamazoo, Michigan during an active shooter event in February of 2016. While an Uber driver went on a shooting spree around the county, the Western Michigan University security team failed to send out an alert to students through its channels. Following the incident, the university president said he would be reviewing the guidelines for how they address these kind of situations to keep students informed.
Consider Every Situation
It’s important to think of every scenario that might warrant an alert to your organization’s population. Certain situations like fire and tornado drills might already be part of your organization’s testing rotation. However, there might be other situations that your organization is more likely to encounter. Get people familiar with these potential events and have assurance messages will be delivered by using emergency communication systems for regular communications as well. Sending non-emergency announcements, such as end of day announcements, lets you check that messages are going to intended devices and know how long it takes to send them.
Having these procedures in place ahead of time can save headaches and confusion when a crisis occurs. In the same vein, regular tests help keep everyone familiar with these procedures and also test the capabilities of the system you have in place. This means you can identify and fix any errors or issues so everything runs smoothly when an emergency happens.
Learn more about how testing can benefit clear communication during emergencies by downloading our white paper.