Beyond the Safe Room – Technology’s Growing Role in Workplace Emergency Management
April 27, 2012
This month we’ve had the advantage of exhibiting at a couple of intriguing events on each coast, most notably the ASIS International Security EXPO in Boxborough, MA. The keynote speaker, Felix Nater, who specializes in making organizations safe and developing non-violent workplaces through situational awareness, spoke on “Combating the Threat of Violence in the Workplace through Robust, Agile: and Collaborative Leadership.” Felix spoke to a hall packed with security experts and while his approach was educating and informative – teaching the ways employers can reduce the likelihood that workplace violence happens in the first place – what I found most interesting is how he recognized and addressed the antiquated methodologies that most workplaces have for emergency communication and management.
It’s not just the workplace but other public institutions such as schools, hospitals and more that need to update the way they handle crisis on campus – many do not have a current plan in place beyond a “safe room” plan – outlining where staff and students should try to hide should a violent situation erupt. But given today’s technologies – especially mobile phones – planning and response can go much further. We have better options for ensuring the safety of the public, especially when so many people are carrying a smartphone. Imagine the difference if a security manager could communicate directly and discreetly with potential victims in a hostage or violence situation – being able to send real time updates and instructions as the situation unfolds can help to better manage the crisis. There is no reason that emergency managers should not have better communication options, given the widespread adoption of smartphones today.
The potential for mobile to positively impact emergency response is just unfolding. Businesses such as ours are helping others realize the powerful tool that sits in the hands of many workers, students, and the general public. Mobile apps that take advantage of today’s communications platforms will continue to grow – allowing folks to easily, instantly and effectively communicate directly with police and security personnel in ways never before realized. I’m excited to watch these developments unfold as mobile adoption and smartphone use increases, new communications methods are realized and emergency and law enforcement personnel take advantage of these trends to combat and manage violence. Together, with innovative workplace leaders who recognize the value of using the best technology available, we are bound to improve the outcomes of bad situations as they arise.