Effective crisis management depends on optimal communication. That means focusing on awareness, control, and response.
Police, first responders, and various security officials deal with crises on a regular basis. These teams can’t afford to be blindsided, as communication breakdowns can put entire missions — and human lives — at risk. But in a crisis, communication can all-too-easily deteriorate, even for trained professionals. Panic and confusion can impair anyone’s ability to think logically, let alone determine the best course of action from among a near-infinity of choices.
Effectively dealing with emergency events demands that public safety officials share information, reassess strategic plans, and take coordinated action. In order to mount a timely response, these teams need to have more than a preliminary strategic plan — they need communication tools that allow them to fulfill the three critical crisis management factors that all missions have in common: awareness, control, and response.
Factor 1: Awareness
The first step in managing a crisis is understanding the full extent of what’s happening. This is essentially about awareness of the situation. Let’s consider this scenario: a police officer is walking her beat, and witnesses a crime taking place. In a situation like this, access to critical data can markedly improve the officer’s situational awareness so she can respond in an appropriate manner.
One key consideration is simply where the crime is occurring. Geolocation data is essential for awareness of the situation, as it allows the officer to immediately identify her location and communicate the address to her command center. Next, the officer can quickly locate officers or other police resources in her vicinity. Nearby officers will be alerted to the situation and given step-by-step directions to the scene, while officers outside the immediate vicinity will know to be on standby.
Similarly, historical data can be helpful for adding context to the situation. For instance, a police department might have a log of recent criminal activity in an area, providing them with a jump start on identifying potential suspects.
Access to real-time sensor data is also becoming indispensable for officers. When officers can tap into area camera feeds coupled with weapon detection or facial recognition software, they can adjust their response and take measures to keep themselves and citizens safe. If the perpetrator attempts to flee the scene, License Plate Recognition (LDR) sensors can help officers quickly locate the suspect. Using geofencing technology, these officers can also alert neighboring districts in the event that the suspect crosses into their jurisdiction.
Factor 2: Control
When a crisis occurs, it’s not necessarily useful for everyone involved to see all possible information at once. Certain players will need to see certain types of information — and only at the right time. Having control over communication is a must for effective crisis management, as illustrated by this community security example.
Control who is able to communicate. For neighborhood security teams, there are multiple stakeholders who could have insight into any given crisis. If an incident occurs, an effective communication system will only send alerts to nearby officers and open up a communication channel to a still-smaller group of officers — for example, those tasked with responding to the crisis. More distant officers may have optional visibility into the incident. Private citizens will not be privy to the official channels, but could receive alerts and notify security if they see suspicious activity that could be related to the incident.
Control what information is available. Not every stakeholder needs to have full, immediate insight at all times. In some cases, too much information can distract from the most critical points at hand, and alerts and information should be prioritized by location, relevancy, and urgency. In other cases, information in the wrong hands can present a risk. For instance, officers should be able to see each other’s locations, but the public shouldn’t have this information, as bad actors might then be able to target less heavily policed locations.
Control when information is available. For neighborhood security officers, communication speed can make the difference between life and death. These smaller security teams need instant communication methods like voice, text, and video, along with real-time insights into evolving environmental conditions.
Factor 3: Response
Ultimately, the point of good communication is to enable a fast and accurate response. Awareness and control allow stakeholders to communicate effectively and shape a well-informed tactical response with speed and efficiency. We can see this in action when it comes to security and policing, where streamlined and prioritized communication between officers and command centers enable better decision-making.
Establishing well-defined workflows and pre-planned tactics can help ensure that officers achieve the degree of coordination required to respond to crises effectively. Part of that planning must involve the implementation of powerful workstream collaboration tools. By giving officers the ability to organize coordinated responses ad hoc, mistakes can be minimized, and command can maintain better control over the way their officers respond. When the safety and security of entire neighborhoods are at risk, this kind of coordination is essential.
Equipping Your Team for Effective ACR
Preparing for crises requires more than good intentions. To achieve awareness, control, and response, organizations need the right technology in hand well before the moment of truth. Ideally, teams are equipped with tools designed to suit — and enhance — their crisis response protocols. That means choosing tools that take into account best practices for achieving these three critical factors.
With the core capabilities baked into the tool, your organization can then build out the features and functionalities you need for your typical mission and objective. No matter the type of crisis, offering your team the right technology upfront gives them the ability to communicate and collaborate with maximum efficiency.