Cloud in a Crisis

By: Kevin Jackson| - Leave a comment

Cloud computing is more than servers and storage. In a crisis situation it can actually be a lifesaver. BlackBerry, in fact, has just become the first cloud-based crisis communication service to receive a Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) authorization from the United States Government for its AtHoc Alert and AtHoc Connect services. If you’re not familiar with FedRAMP, it is a US government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. The Blackberry certification was sponsored by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

While you may not need a US Government certified solution in an emergency, your organization may really want to consider the benefits of cloud computing for crisis response. From a communications point of view, companies can use cloud based services to quickly and reliably send secure messages to all members of staff, individual employees or specific target groups of people. Smartphone location-mapping functions can also be easily installed and used. One advantage of using application-based software installed on an employee’s smartphone is that it can be switched off when an employee is in a safe-zone, providing a balance between staff privacy and protection. Location data can be invaluable and result is better coordination, a more effective response and faster deployment of resources to those employees deemed to be at risk.

Using the cloud for secure two-way messaging enables simultaneous access to multiple contact paths which include SMS messaging, emails, VOIP calls, voice-to-text alerts and app notifications. Cloud-based platforms have an advantage over other forms of crisis communication tools because emergency notifications are not only sent out across all available channels and contact paths, but continue to be sent out until an acknowledgement is received from the recipient. Being able to send out notifications and receive responses, all within a few minutes, means businesses can rapidly gain visibility of an incident and react more efficiently to an unfolding situation. Wi-Fi Enabled devices can also be used to keep the communications lines open when more traditional routes are unusable.

While you’re thinking about your corporation’s crisis response plans, don’t forget about the data.  Accessing data through cloud-based services can prevent a rescue effort from turning into a recovery operation. Sources for this life-saving resource include:

  • Data exhaust – information that is passively collected along with the use of digital technology.
  • Online activity – encompasses all types of social activity on the Internet such as email, social media and internet search activity
  • Sensing technologies – used mostly to gather information about social behavior and environmental conditions
  • “Small Data” – data that is ‘small’ enough for human comprehension and is presented in a volume and format that makes it accessible, informative and actionable.
  • Public-related data – census data, birth and death certificates, and other types of personal and socio-economic data.
  • Crowdsourced data – applications that actively involve a wide user base in order to solicit their knowledge about particular topics or events.

Can the cloud be of assistance when you’re in a crisis? Cloud-enabled crisis/incident management service from IBM may be just what you need to protect your business. IBM Resiliency Communications as a Service is a high availability, cloud-enabled crisis/incident management service that protects your business by engaging the right people at the right time when an event occurs, through automated mission-critical communications. The service also integrates weather alerts powered by The Weather Company into incident management processes to provide the most accurate early warning of developing weather events and enable proactive response

Crisis Response Data and Technologies

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About The Author

Kevin Jackson

CEO/Founder, GovCloud Network

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. Mr. Jackson has also been recognized as a “Top 100 Cybersecurity Influencer and Brand” by Onalytica (2015), a Huffington Post “Top 100 Cloud Computing Experts on Twitter” (2013) and a “Top 50 Cloud Computing Blogger for IT Integrators” by CRN (2015). Mr. Jackson’s professional career includes service in the US Navy Space Systems Command, Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and NJVC Vice President, Cloud Services. He is currently part of a team responsible for onboarding mission applications to the US Intelligence Community cloud computing environment (IC ITE). He is also a National Cyber security Institute Fellow. His first book, “GovCloud: Cloud Computing for the Business of Government” was published by Government Training Inc. and released in March 2011. His second book, released in 2012 by the same publisher, is titled “GovCloud II: Implementation and Cloud Brokerage Services". His next publication, “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View”, will be released by Taylor & Francis in the spring of 2016.

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