Safety in numbers?
As a key element of their crisis communication capability, many organisations utilise mass notification tools, which provide the ability to send text, email and other types of messages to large numbers of people simultaneously. Which is a very useful thing to be able to do.
It does, however, beg the question what, exactly, are you going to do with the responses? For instance, if 85% of your staff reply to say they’re safe, does that mean that 15% aren’t? Not necessarily. There’s a whole host of reasons why they might not respond – their phone may be switched off; they might be in a meeting and ignore it; there might not be a mobile signal where they are; or maybe they just can’t be bothered. All you can really be sure of is that they haven’t replied. And for those who have replied to say that they’re safe, does that guarantee that it’ll still be the case in five minutes, or fifteen minutes, or an hour? No, all you can really be sure of is that they felt that they were safe at the time they responded. Which, depending on the situation, doesn’t necessarily mean you can forget about them, as they may still be at risk.
So, whilst at first sight, the ability to quickly elicit an “I’m safe” response seems really useful, unless you have a strategy and associated processes in place to deal with the responses, it may not be as helpful as you first thought.
The point is that, as with any solutions, technological or otherwise, we need to think through how we’re going to use them, and the potential implications, before we rush into implementing them, if we’re to reap the expected benefits.