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The Indispensable Role of Communication During a Pandemic

As the COVID-19 outbreak has grown in size and severity, countries have adopted increasingly serious measures to combat it. Borders have been closed, air travel has been restricted, and – in some cases – mandatory quarantines are now being enforced by law. Offices have been forced to shut their doors and embrace remote work as their new normal as staff self-isolate for their safety.

During such a difficult time, the most important consideration of all is communication, particularly as part of a focused crisis response plan. Governments must maintain open lines of contact with their citizens, that they may meet their duty of care amidst the pandemic. They must also have a calibrated framework in place for safeguarding their own staff.

These are not simple tasks, particularly in the current climate. It is not simply individual districts or communities that are at-risk, but entire regions. The public sector now faces the unenviable task of simultaneously connecting with millions.

Agencies must ensure they are capable of providing people with complete, accurate information in real-time. Without access to necessary updates and instructions, people will be left to their own devices. It is part of the public sector’s duty of care to ensure that accurate, real-time information is readily available to the people who need it.

Emergency Alerting During a Pandemic

Where this becomes truly challenging is where emergency alerts are concerned, such as recent Shelter-in-Place notices across the country. In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, governments are urging citizens to remain indoors. One of the largest such advisories took place last week, impacting seven million people in Northern California.

BlackBerry AtHoc played a key role in this. Working with both BlackBerry and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Contra Costa County used the AtHoc platform to send an IPAWS/WEA alert to more than 1.1 million residents in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through close collaboration, they were able to keep their communities safe.


This is a difficult time for many, marked by social isolation, health concerns, and financial instability. In such trying times, it’s important to remember that everyone is in this together. That the first, most important step in getting through this pandemic – in getting through any disaster – is to keep informed and keep in touch. 

Ramon Pinero

About Ramon Pinero

Ramon Pinero is Vice President, Product and Services, BlackBerry AtHoc.