Imagine that an active shooter is on a college campus, holding several people hostage. Escaped individuals are posting tweets and Facebook messages from their smartphones as TV news vans descend upon the scene. News and rumors are already spreading like wildfire, as is a sense of panic that threatens to burst out of control.
By Guy Miasnik, President, AtHoc
This unfortunately-all-too-real scenario demonstrates how keeping people safe is more challenging for governments than ever, not only because of the dangerous times we’re living in, but also due to the ease of sharing information – accurate and inaccurate – through the smartphones and computers that are always with us.
This constant connection to social media, news outlets, and other people is a double-edged sword; it’s a powerful tool to alert people about threatening conditions and how to get to safety, but it’s also an easy way to spread misinformation, set off pandemonium, and cause people to react in ways that put them in greater harm.
And due to the constant risk of danger and the importance of technology in our lives, security encompasses much more than it used to. Governments are protecting more people – in the U.S. alone, there are more than 4 million federal government employees, and many of them are working remotely, either because their jobs regularly take them out of the office or because of telework arrangements. And the threats to our personal security are growing ever more serious.
When properly applied, a mobile crisis management platform can help control a dangerous situation and protect information, infrastructure, and people. Here are some examples:
- Individuals under duress can securely send their location, a photo, or other information about the situation from their mobile phones to security officials.
- Government agencies can push real-time alerts to the smartphones of people on the building grounds and nearby, notifying them about the situation and directing them to safety.
- Agency officials can monitor social media channels to gather information in real-time from people on the scene who are posting photos or details about the situation
- Police can send sensitive photos, maps, and other data to officers’ mobile devices over a secure, digital-rights-management (DRM)-protected channel.
- Officials can monitor government employees’ locations and safety through location-based services.
- Should the worst happen and an officer is killed or captured by the shooter, IT can immediately deactivate his or her phone to prevent proprietary information from being accessed by unauthorized people.
Mobile-based crisis-communications platforms that enable the above are available today. They vary in cost, which is an important factor in these budget-strapped times, as well as their capabilities. Broadly speaking, a crisis communications platform must be able to do these three things:
- Protect people: Keeping people safe is always the No. 1 priority and the ultimate purpose of protecting information and infrastructure. Governments are charged with maintaining the integrity of our everyday communications and interactions while also protecting us in times of crisis and need.
- Protect information: Vast amounts of government (and other sensitive) data are being shared through smartphones, computers, and tablets, and in emails, messaging platforms, texts, social media platforms, and cloud networks. It’s critical that governments can protect data against those who could use it to do us harm.
- Protect infrastructure: We are increasingly using connected systems and devices in new ways, including gathering information about public safety threats that are underway or about to happen. The escalating footprint of the Internet of Things means that governments must ensure the enterprise infrastructure they’re building today can stand up to the test of time.
Even in the face of escalating threats and challenges, mobile devices and software are enabling governments to react quickly and protect themselves and the people they serve from threats to their security and privacy.
And, by leveraging these enterprise solutions and mobile devices, governments, including police forces, can work more effectively and efficiently to protect our security.
Protecting the protectors
Governments today have an inherent need for a trusted partner than can help them protect the protectors. And for nearly 20 years, BlackBerry and its subsidiaries have been that trusted partner to government agencies. Today’s BlackBerry has moved beyond device-focused support to provide holistic, end-to-end communications systems that secure information, infrastructure, and people.
We are honored that so many federal government agencies, including the U.S. Senate, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Coast Guard, Capitol Hill, the Department of Homeland Security, and both the 2016 Republican and Democratic National Conventions rely on BlackBerry enterprise software as the backbone of their emergency preparedness planning and execution.
Security threats are not going away, but technology is continuing to evolve better ways to reduce the danger that we face. With security built into every product and solution we bring to market, BlackBerry designs for a world where the privacy and security of connections is key.
The Internet of Things is enabling us to monitor the world for early notice of emergencies like oil rig blowouts, fires in remote areas, flooding, train derailments, and manufacturing anomalies. Connecting the alerts triggered by IoT sensors to networked crisis communication solutions powerfully expands our capabilities to communicate these incidents and take action to minimize the damage and the risk.
A new AtHoc whitepaper on How the Internet of Things Leads to Better, Faster Crisis Communication explores ways governments and companies can incorporate IoT sensor data into emergency preparedness scenarios for faster, better crisis communications, public safety, and industrial security. You can download the whitepaper now on BlackBerry’s SlideShare channel. To learn more about how AtHoc can benefit your crisis communications program, visit the official AtHoc product page, register for a live product demo, and read our most recent blog posts.