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Messages in a Bottleneck - Emergency Comms Failure

16 December 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

In a globally connected world, a great many companies have staff that travel both locally and overseas, making it more important to have an effective emergency communications plan in place in order to contact geographically dispersed staff during a crisis.

The latest Emergency Communication Report, published by the Business Continuity Institute week ending Friday December 16, revealed that one out of three major organisations surveyed (32 per cent) report their employees travel to ‘high risk’ countries.

The Report did deliver the encouraging news that most 84 per cent of organisations surveyed do have some form of plan in place, although it did highlight that for those that don’t, two thirds felt that only a business-affecting event would incentivise them to develop one – most people would consider this too late.



  • The Report also came to the conclusion that increasing physical security challenges experienced by organizations due to rising levels of concern surrounding workplace violence and acts of terrorism, as identified in the BCI’s latest Horizon Scan Report, being able to communicate effectively with staff may have the added advantage of increasing safety.


  • Further findings from the report include

  • 32 per cent of companies surveyed said that at least 100 employees travel internationally.

  • The top reasons for triggering emergency communications are: unplanned IT and telecommunications outages; power outages; adverse weather; facilities management incidents; cyber security incidents; and natural disasters.

  • The top processes used for emergency communications are: internal emails; text messaging; manual call trees; emergency communication software; and website announcements. Most organisations use up to three emergency communications processes.

  • Around 3 out of 10 organizations (29 percent) do not have training and education programmes

  • Around 7 out of 10 of those surveyed stated that their emergency communications plan had been activated during the last year, other than during an exercise.

  • 6 out of 10 are not confident about their preparedness for a location-specific security incident (e.g. workplace violence, act of terrorism).

Patrick Alcantara DBCI, Senior Research Associate at the BCI and author of the report, commented: “A robust emergency communications capability is a crucial, often life-saving, component of incident response. This becomes more important considering ever changing threats which often have an impact on the physical safety and well-being of employees and customers.”

Imad Mouline, Chief Technology Officer at Everbridge, (which sponsored the survey) said: “This year’s findings indicate that global businesses are increasingly aware that true resiliency is a company-wide initiative that involves taking accountability for the safety of all staff—whether they are located in the office, at home or on the road. While it’s not surprising to see shared interest in emergency communications across business continuity, IT, security, facilities and other disciplines, it’s clear that organisations are still seeking solutions to optimise their response plans for a mobile workforce and for the growing frequency and complexity of critical events and security incidents.

The Report features 661 responses from 71 countries. To download a full copy of the report, Click Here

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 16 December 2016


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