Crisis Communication Solutions Goes Mainstream with BlackBerry AtHoc

CSA Crises Communications Lunch Event Supported by BlackBerry

CSA were pleased to collaborate with BlackBerry in Singapore to run a lunch roundtable event discussing Crisis Communication.

With a select group of twenty people in attendance, experts from BlackBerry were on hand to not only discuss their own crises communications technology “AtHoc” but to provide insight into building a crises communications strategy in general.

The spread of attendees crossed job functions from IT, HR and Risk, retail, to finance and manufacturing; the breadth of interest a real indication that Crisis Communications is no longer a specialist interest field, it’s an issue which resonates relevance across lines of business and industry.

Cyber Security Asean Group Publisher Andrew Martin, was on hand to welcome the attendees and set the scene before passing over to the BlackBerry speakers for the meat of the event. He likened Crises communications to BYOD, where individuals often have the ability to use devices to communicate in a crises, but if not properly controlled and regulated, it ends up being counter-productive. As an example, if you leave people to use social media in an unregulated way to disseminate information in the time of crises, it is likely to increase confusion instead of improve people’s safety. His point being, that as users already have the tools, unless companies get ahead of the curve and put process and tools over the top, employees may take matters into their own hands when crises occurs. In Andrew’s words, it’s the communications equivalent of “shadow IT”.

Andrew handed over to Amit Mehta, BlackBerry’s Managing Director for South-East Asia who gave a bit more context around how BlackBerry’s business has evolved since the days they were associated with handheld devices. Many of their innovations which were delivered through those devices are still available today, but as software across multiple platforms. According to Amit, “BlackBerry Secure IoT with a trusted platform in a zero trust world.” In Amit’s words, “BlackBerry is still around you, but not in such a visible way”. He explained how BlackBerry aims to provide organisations with software that secures their IoT, secures the products they make, the data they share, and the communications they conduct.

Amit also explained the extensive eco-system of partners that BlackBerry work with. An ecosystem of over 2000 partners reminding us of the credibility, experience and trust that BlackBerry brings to its solutions.

On the topic of Crises Communication, Amit delved into more detail on social media explaining why social media managed with a trusted platform can be an important part of a total communications strategy, but used in isolation or without integration into a specialist communication platform, it will be counter-productive. According to Amit, left uncontrolled, social communication in a crisis is likely to be insufficient, incorrect, outdated and opportunistic. The net effect is that it clouds rather than clarifies the circumstances.

The key presentation at the event was delivered by Adam Sloan – BlackBerry’s Technical Solution Lead for APAC, who went into more detail on the BlackBerry AtHoc solution itself, but not before pointing out the use case and justifications for investing in crises communication solutions. Severe and extreme weather, cybersecurity attacks, man-made incidents and government regulation can all be drivers and catalysts to implement crises communication solutions. Chatting with Adam about his presentation, he explained to us that with the number of incidents such as severe weather disruption on the increase, combined with the rise of fluid mobile workforces, has sparked more interest and requirement for this kind of solution.

According to Adam, the key components  to look for in a crisis communications solution are Alert, Collect, Account and Connect. According to Adam, there are many solutions that meet some of these criteria but few that do it all. In addition, he explained that whilst many can offer the ability to alert, the devil is in the detail. As an example, using mobile phones for alerts may be a floored strategy in times of crises, as the load spike on mobile networks at those times means it is very common that people in an emergency zone cannot get a connection.

Breaking down these four “tenets” of crises communication further, Adam explained “Alerting means being able to notify any member of your extended team, wherever they may be on any device they have access to at any time. Collection is about being able to capture critical information at critical times to quickly achieve reliable situational awareness”. On the topic of accountability Adam explained that BlackBerry are referring to the ability to have real-time and instant visibility on the location, safety and status of your personnel and maintain that visibility throughout an emergency situation. Connection, according to Adam, is about coordination, ensuring the ability to have reliable cross-organisation and cross-agency communication.

Adam’s presentation was impressive, and the message is clear. Crises Communications is something that all organisations need to start looking into. If your employee count is over a hundred people it starts to become something you should take seriously. If you have responsibility for thousands of people then it is our belief at CSA that it should be high on your agenda to implement a policy and have the tools to support it.

You can find out more about the Blackberry AtHoc offering here.

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