Why You Should Avoid Instant Messaging Services for Emergency Communications
A communication plan is absolutely critical in a crisis environment. During a crisis or disaster, the decisions you make, the actions you take and the words you say will determine if the situation stabilizes or escalates. Leaders are under significant pressure and must make quick decisions and communicate to key constituents based upon continually changing information. Having a clear communications plan before a crisis strikes is imperative because it’s easier to edit a message or strategy than it is to create – especially in high-stress situations.
In addition to identifying messages, decision-makers and actions to take prior to a crisis, an organization should adopt a communication tool. Firestorm partner and market leader in cloud-based notification and collaboration tools, OnSolve, discusses features to look for when selecting a messaging service.
To reduce costs, businesses around the world are turning to free apps for texting and instant messaging.
These programs do serve the purpose of communicating in real-time. Yet, there are grave concerns when organizations turn to these apps and programs for their emergency notifications. By choosing a “free” app to provide communications during an emergency, organizations may be at risk of noncompliance with federal and international regulations. This blog explains how your organization may be in jeopardy when using these types of services for communicating with the public or internal teams in a crisis.
Lack of Monitoring and Recording
While instant messaging services are typically free and universally recognized, such apps and platforms come with a high cost of risk to the target audience. For starters, organizations that use these services cannot track and record which individuals have read emergency notification messages. Furthermore, there is no way for message recipients to organize the information they do receive.
Without a way to monitor message deliveries, organizations don’t have valid documentation for auditing purposes. As a result, there isn’t a way to evaluate the success of the notification plan and make necessary improvements. Given the ever-changing regulatory landscape and the need to provide valid and successful notifications in a crisis scenario, documentation is critical. These apps and instant messenger programs aren’t capable of providing important feedback on delivery results.
The last thing an organization needs during an emergency is to have their communication channels hacked or compromised. When using an instant messaging service, there are major security concerns. Most apps and programs do not offer organizations the ability to conduct and control penetration or other types of security tests. For organizations that are focused on providing communications during an emergency, testing and evaluation are an essential element of the response strategy.
Finding the Right Service
While instant messaging platforms and texting apps serve a purpose, these services are not up to par for today’s complex organizations. Certain countries, such as the UK, are prohibiting the use of such services in the business environment. Simply put, as noted by the Information Commissioner’s Office that oversees the General Data Protection Regulation, the use of these services for professional communications is in violation of EU data protection. The EU crackdown could be just the beginning, with the US and other leading nations pushing for better security of communication networks. One way that your organization can forgo this security risk and improve your emergency notifications is to choose the best service designed for emergency notifications.
SWN Direct from OnSolve is a cost-effective SMS app that enables fully encrypted communication including Secure Chat, which is a fully integrated chat feature for secure, end-to-end text communication. The platform provides geo-tracking and an encrypted lockbox for file sharing. Best of all, the fully secure system is designed for the tracking, monitoring, and auditing of message deliveries. SWN Direct keeps organizations compliant and provides full visibility to important feedback required to effectively monitor and improve notification reach.
Contact OnSolve today to find out how to get started with this multi-modal communications platform and mobile app. We will provide you with a free demo of SWN Direct and help you determine if this is the right solution for your organization.
Firestorm and OnSolve are hosting a crisis and risk, no-fee webinar series. Please join us for our remaining sessions below.
November 14 – 2-2:45 p.m. ET
Anticipating the Known and Unknown – Planning for Your Next Crisis
Every act of violence requires a unique response because no two events are alike. Other business priorities can make it convenient to believe that violence will not visit our workplace. Don’t fall victim to that “disaster denial” thinking. In this presentation, we will review not only the importance of planning but how to plan for your next crisis.
December 12 – 2-2:45 p.m. ET
Performing in the Darkest Hour – Responding to an Act of Violence in Your Organization
What happens when violence does strike? Does your organization have a violence response program? How will you communicate with employees, stakeholders, and others during and after a crisis? Do not wait until after a crisis to answer these questions. In this presentation, we will walk attendees through preparedness best practices and action steps to take when violence enters your door.
December 18 – 2-2:45 p.m. ET
Virtual Exercise Simulation – Testing Your Deadly Weapons Response Plan: A Firestorm and OnSolve Virtual Exercise
Training and testing are essential for the plan’s success and will make your team familiar and comfortable with the plan so they know what to expect and how to react to an event. Equally important, practice will create a culture of awareness throughout your organization. To help facilitate testing, Firestorm and OnSolve present a two-hour, virtual exercise on testing your deadly weapons response plan.
OnSolve is the market leader in cloud-based notification and collaboration tools capable of delivering critical notifications and alerts for any type of event. Whether it’s emergency situations threatening lives, or routine organizational messages, the OnSolve solutions provide the tools to communicate detailed information and instructions quickly and securely.
Ann Pickren currently serves as the President, Commercial for OnSolve, LLC. In this role, Ann leverages her deep domain expertise and years of experience in the notification industry to oversee all Customer Care functions for OnSolve, including Customer Success, Customer Support and Customer Services. As a passion, she also makes time to consult directly with OnSolve customers to help develop best practices regarding the implementation and use of automated notifications.
James (Jim) W. Satterfield is the CEO and co-founder of Firestorm®. Jim is a nationally recognized expert, keynote speaker and author on crisis management, threat assessment, disaster preparedness and business continuity planning.
He has experience as President, CEO and COO of various public and private companies in business continuity, communications, crisis management, environmental, insurance, reinsurance, risk management and technology. Jim has extensive expertise in the identification and quantification of risk.