Innovation

Why big tech companies have internal emergency response systems

Everbridge's Meg Lovell explains why major tech companies with distributed teams like Apple, Google, and Amazon have their own emergency notification systems.

This is the final interview in a series of four videos with Everbridge's Meg Lovell. The other videos may be found here:

Big companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon have their own internal notification systems. TechRepublic met with Everbridge's Meg Lovell to understand what some of these systems are, and how other companies can adopt similar approaches during an emergency. Below is a transcription of their interview.

Lovell: This is actually a really growing area right now in business continuity and disaster recovery. So when it comes to these particular companies, what is their most valuable asset? Their people. Their people is by far their most valuable asset. So when you have some sort of business interruption, which can be anything from supply chain disruption to a truck sliding off a road to a bomb blast in an airport somewhere abroad. And this can all cause interruption to your business because you don't know where your people are, you don't know if they're safe.

So one of the things I encourage all our customers to do with our systems is we want them to be able to track, not just their assets, so their data centers, production plants, offices, etc, but we also want them to be able to track their people. And in order to effectively track your people in an emergency situation, you have to be prepared in advance. So it's not a difficult process for businesses to do, it's just overlooked. Because there's a couple things you need to know about your people. You need to know who your people are, which is something people often forget, and you need to know where those people are at all times. And you also need to know how to reach those people in an emergency situation.

SEE: 10 apps to help you prepare for, respond to, and recover from a natural disaster (TechRepublic)

And it can't just be on modality. You can't guarantee that a text message sent out from a system is automatically going to make it through a complicated international network and be delivered in Turkey, say if there was an incident in the airport. You need to have multiple modalities available to reach all of those people in the event of a situation, because it could be that the local SMS is overloaded by people within Turkey sending SMS and backing up the ability to get those out. So that's why we encourage having multiple modalities in order to get in touch with your people.

So when you have those three things, you can communicate effectively and get back to business faster, but when you don't have those three things, I mean that's automatically setting yourself up for failure in an emergency situation, because if the bomb goes off and you're trying to figure out who you should be tracking, it's far too late. If you're trying to figure out where they are, that's going to set you back hours or days. And if you don't know what their number is or how to contact them, you can't get in touch with them.

So really, you can take an incident where, I've had customers report that they've had international instances due to bomb explosions where in the past, it's taken them three or four days to account for all their human resources in those areas. With the Everbridge system and having all this automated and planned out, it's taken them 15 minutes.


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Image: iStock/gorodenkoff

About Dan Patterson

Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.

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