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Leadership and an integrated approach are imperative for effective Critical Event Management

While the global pandemic has not completely vanished, economies around the word are gradually opening and getting their employees to get back into the physical office.

With the risk of the virus still looming large, ensuring the safety of employees is mission critical for organisations – especially in certain industries where remote working is not a viable option.

Graeme Orsborn, VP – International CEM Business Unit, Everbridge

In order to better understand the process of critical event management, OpenGov Asia spoke with Graeme Osborn, Vice-President, International Critical Event Management for Everbridge.

The discussion revolved around how different industries and organisations are formulating their return to office plans.

Graeme shared that it is a challenging time for all organisations and they are all following different approaches to deal with the current critical event.

While some do not anticipate having their employees back before the end of the year, others are coming up with new ways of tracking and ensuring the safety of their staff.

One industry that is particularly struggling is the construction industry, as unlike the office space the construction sites are not technologically enabled.

Traditional ways of doing everyday activities have to be altered in a manner that keeps physical contact between the workers to a minimum.

The office ecosystem is facing a different kind of challenge as employees are more resistant to being traced. With that in mind, employers are exploring new ways to ensure safety at work without constantly keeping an eye on their staff.

One of the ways of doing this is contact tracking. Graeme emphasized that contact tracking is very different from contact tracing.

In the former process, leverage points of information are used to understand the potential impact of the virus. Other ways include heat detection, daily health surveys, self-health certification etc.

He expounded further on the process approach involved in contact tracking. Once the application is installed by the employee, the app keeps track of whoever they encounter within a 2-meter radius. If at any point someone reports an infection, everyone they contacted and others in the organisation are informed of it through the application.

In case of a self-report, the app not only alerts the employees and the control team, it also helps contain the exposure quickly by scanning the exposure area within the organisation.

Critical events or disasters are never over; there is one after another and multiple critical events can hit us at the same time. Many parts of the world are dealing with floods, typhoons, bushfires alongside COVID 19.

Graeme highlighted in order to effectively manage multiple critical events, two aspects are very important: 1) Planning (having all the information and resources readily available) 2) Testing out the systems and processes that have been planned.

It is also important to understand that when an organisation is hit with a natural disaster or any other critical event, business continuity, life safety of employees, cybersecurity and operations are threatened.

Therefore, an organisation’s critical event management approach should unify all these business components rather than them operating in silos.

As the executive leader of an organisation, the CEO is ultimately the person responsible to lead its critical event management initiatives.

In the times of crisis and immense pressure, s/he is the one who will take the decision for the whole organisation. As such,  it is very important for the CEO to be ahead of the critical event management approach.

Contrarily, when one looks at governments and public sector, it is very difficult to pinpoint any one agency or organisation to be responsible for handling critical events management as with pandemics and disasters multiple public utilities are impacted (health, transportation, food supplies, education, communication etc).

Of course, there is a collective responsibility of all the different agencies focusing of these aspects individually; and they must be directed by the leader of the country to ensure the safety of all citizens.

He concluded by emphasising that irrespective of the type of organisation it is imperative to have an integrated approach and clear leadership to effectively tackle critical events.

OpenGov Asia had earlier shared an interview with Graeme Orsborn on the value of Critical Event Management for any organisation as well as the basics steps to take in order to put in place a successful critical event management plan and how that applies in the global COVID-19 crisis today.


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