New capabilities focus on automation tools, rules engine, and alert flow to reduce labor-intensive activities while accelerating response.
BlackBerry Limited, a global leader in secure mobile communications, today announced that AtHoc, a division of BlackBerry, has released a new version of its market-leading crisis communications platform.
These new capabilities give AtHoc customers additional pre-planning resources and automated processing of crisis communication activities, to help resolve critical incidents with less manual intervention and fewer improvised, on-the-spot decisions. It also assists staff members in preparing for a wider range of emergency scenarios more easily, and in responding to crises faster with fully-automated business rules, outreach, and response.
“Critical events are inherently complex, and our customers have been asking for faster and more efficient ways to manage their crisis communications,” said Joseph Ng, Senior Director of Marketing and Strategy at AtHoc. “They want to be able to customize their workflow so that users understand the nature of threats sooner, and alerts are escalated faster. It’s all about business continuity and resilience, and we are proud to address those needs directly with this new release from AtHoc.”
AtHoc consistently monitors and evaluates the crisis communication discipline, and this updated platform directly addresses some of the core 2016 Crisis Communication Trends. It significantly simplifies the management of emergency situations with several new enhancements:
- Real-Time Alert Rules. Enables users to create rules for forwarding alerts received from external organizations and sources. It also helps operators to predefine response processes on common incident types. For example, a hospital receiving a notification from fire or police that a major crisis has led to a large number of injuries will not lose time initializing and launching its own alerts. The incoming notifications will automatically be routed to the appropriate medical and administrative personnel. A recent example of the need to plan and coordinate communication processes is January 2016’s Winter Storm Jones, as described here.
- Automated Staff Mustering. A new fill count capability automatically contacts a roster of staff members who possess the right skills and training until the required number of people has been reached, and acknowledged their assignments. At that point, the system stops seeking additional respondents, freeing up resources and personnel for other priorities. For example, in a chemical plant, all available qualified workers can be summoned to the scene of a problem, until enough people have responded to cover all of the contingencies.
- Management Alerting. Pre-configured escalation rules that automatically alert supervisors when line staff cannot be reached, or decline an assignment for some reason. This enables managers to analyze an issue, and communicate the situation up the chain, requesting assistance from senior individuals. In an IT organization, as an example, if a critical system goes down and the normally assigned technician is unavailable, qualified managers up to the CIO can be called to step in and fill the gap, or activate a predetermined contingency plan.
- Severity-Codified Notifications. Easy-to-use templates enable organizations to designate the level of severity when setting up and issuing an alert. The look and feel of the alert will automatically correspond to the seriousness of the situation. Supervisors can receive emails with a familiar red headers at the beginning of the crisis, to denote extreme urgency, in addition to any other forms of contact. The personnel contacted during the fill count can also receive supplementary emails with the red headers. However, people told to wait and be available for later shifts will receive companion emails with orange or yellow headers, indicating a lower level of urgency.
Together, these new innovations significantly improve rapid response time by turning complex business processes into efficient, effective, crisis communications to deliver faster, more automated actions. Many of these new functionalities have already deployed at major North American airports, maritime ports, large refinery operations centers, and at some of the world’s largest healthcare organizations, among other customers.