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Incident Response Maturity: From Emergency Mass Notification Systems to Critical Event Management

Enterprises like yours face an enormous spectrum of threats. Some are human-caused, such as suspicious packages, cyberattacks and industrial accidents, while others are natural, such as wildfires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Regardless, they all create critical events that require critical event management (CEM) tools and capabilities to keep people safe, promote business resilience and meet regulatory mandates.

To successfully respond to threats, your enterprise needs to share the right information with the right people at the right time. Enterprises have a safety obligation and duty of care to their employees, and meeting those needs requires effective planning and response. Employees need to know about unsafe situations, security guidelines and safety measures. This requires that enterprises deliver consistent messaging and unified communications via multiple channels and devices.

Mass notification, however, is only the first level of incident response maturity, a path that leads to effective critical event management. Typically, incident response capabilities start with emergency notification, grow to include incident management with collaboration at all levels in the organization (and often with partners), and are fully realized with the addition of automation and machine learning.

An emergency mass notification system (EMNS) is a great first step. Yet, inevitably, as enterprises mature their practices and take on additional responsibilities, they require more advanced capabilities. This is when a critical event management platform often becomes necessary to deliver effective incident response and recovery goals. Emergency planning, incident response, recovery processes and ongoing improvement provide a natural progression for all types of businesses as they strive to improve their emergency response. CEM platforms provide enterprise leaders and team members with the tools and information they need now to respond to—and recover from—every critical event better and faster.

Level 1: Mass Notification System

Because communication is paramount, many enterprises start with an emergency mass notification system or, under in its absence, a consumer chat tool. An EMNS provides a way to alert people on any device at any time, and offers features enterprises need, such as integration with an enterprise directory, response tracking for accountability, and auditability for compliance. At this early level of incident response maturity, an enterprise may implement a mass notification system even before incident response plans are in place. Manual processes may require a human operator to use a call tree spreadsheet and rapidly send messages through the EMNS to employees and other affected stakeholders.

Level 2: Incident Management

Soon, however, incident management needs to evolve beyond mass alerting. Enterprises begin to find daily value in the routine use of notification systems, beyond just “emergencies,” and business leaders start to recognize the importance of gathering accurate information quickly and managing information flow during a critical event. As their incident management program matures, the enterprise must upgrade from a rapid communication tool to more sophisticated planning tools that incorporate critical event planning checklists, playbooks with detailed action plans, and shared documents. These additional capabilities centralize knowledge and provide quick reference materials to reduce response time when it really counts.

Level 3: Real-Time Collaboration

For many organizations, real-time enterprise collaboration and cross-organizational communication become increasingly important. Group chat and voice calls enable a shared experience through a CEM tool. Collaborating with a local incident response team and mutual aid agreements with community partners and government agencies also requires this type of collaboration.

Level 4: Automation and Machine Learning

The highest level of incident response maturity is automation. Advantages of automation are quickly evident when manual processes become burdensome. This often occurs as an enterprise expands and public expectations for a speedy response loom larger. Automation and machine learning complete the incident lifecycle management with end-to-end integration and automated workflows that speed the flow of information. Automation collects data from building sensors, badging systems, alarms, and third-party information feeds. Then, integration with enterprise collaboration and ticketing systems automatically sends alerts and information to the people who need to act on it. Machine learning enables technology to identify anomalous data and act autonomously, doing much of the work for you.

In these ways, CEM technology provides a unified platform to effectively manage all types of critical events—from minor incidents to full-scale crises.

Why Choose a Critical Event Management Solution from BlackBerry?

Enterprises of all sizes choose BlackBerry® critical event management solutions for many reasons:

  • Trusted security and experience: For use in highly regulated environments, including national governments, BlackBerry CEM solutions are certified and recognized as among the industry’s most secure. A managed service offering also extends these resources, skills, and expertise to all organizations of all size, resource, and maturity levels.
  • Unified platform for large enterprises: Designed for complex environments, our CEM solutions integrate with enterprise directories, adapt to unique organizational structures, and provide role-based permissions.
  • Inter-organization communication: The use of a private, trusted crisis communication network and the ability to invite others to participate enables BlackBerry customers to collaborate widely.
  • Flexible deployment and service models: We give you choices. BlackBerry® Alert is delivered as a hosted SaaS solution. BlackBerry® AtHoc® is available as an on-premises, hosted SaaS, or hybrid solution. Both are available as a fully managed service.
  • IoT interoperability: Triggered from a desktop, a mobile device, or automatically via APIs fed by sensors and data feeds, our CEM solutions integrate with Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise systems to share information with endpoints as diverse as ticketing, enterprise collaboration, and mass communication systems, as well as personal devices.
  • High availability: Our systems support secure delivery with geo-redundancy, and highly available cloud infrastructure.

How to Get Started with Critical Event Management

When you engage BlackBerry for a CEM solution, we plan and design the system for your operational requirements. We provision, populate, and test the system with you. BlackBerry trains your team to ensure they are fully qualified and equipped to operate the system. We exercise and drill your operators on the use of the system and enable them to use it effectively. And when you are ready, we seamlessly transition you to our world-class support team to ensure your ongoing success. Contact us to get started.

Watch the Ramon Pinero hosted video, “Everything You Need to Know about BlackBerry AtHoc,” featured at the 2020 BlackBerry Security Summit. Registration is now open for the 2021 BlackBerry Security Summit—click here to attend and learn more.

Ramon Pinero

About Ramon Pinero

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