Crisis Communications and Incident Response in an Interconnected World

By: Fran Howarth| - Leave a comment


Incident response and crisis communications have long been in the purview of first responders, law enforcement and public and private-sector organizations. It was rarely regarded at a personal level. But with social media and mobile everywhere, that is no longer the case.

Incidents, both natural and man-made, can impact people equally in professional and personal environments. And whether it’s a flood, earthquake or act of terrorism, mobile and social communications mechanisms enable news of these crises to spread quickly to a wide audience.

Crisis Communication Services Unveiled

To enable more effective communication during a crisis, some technology giants have developed services that spread news of the disaster more quickly for aid purposes, and allow those experiencing a crisis to inform their loved ones that they’re OK.

Google launched its People Finder service in 2010 in response to the Haiti earthquake as a registry and message board for survivors to communicate their status. Facebook followed suit in October 2014 with its Safety Check service, which uses geolocation technology to identify individuals in close proximity to a major crisis, providing them with the ability to tap an “I’m Safe” button to reassure family and friends of their safety. Facebook is now working on another feature to allow individual communities to activate the service themselves so there are no longer delays caused by the need for central activation. Uber is adding similar features to its mobile app, such as an SOS button for its service in India.

Resiliency Communications-as-a-Service

Disaster recovery needs to provide lines of communication for individuals to announce their status, but businesses should also be learning from these incidents when they occur. While Twitter conversations and LinkedIn members-only groups can keep information circulating among staff, this dialogue should necessarily encourage the use of emergency management and predictive analytics systems that allow the enterprise to prepare more effectively in the future. This can allow operations teams to reserve their social media accounts for employees who need to discuss issues beyond logistical or technological outages.

To better handle incident response in the event of a crisis, organizations should consider a cloud-based resiliency communications-as-a-service offering, one that provides interactive workflow management tools to better handle incident reporting and crisis communications across multiple areas of their business. This can help to account for the safety of staff and executives and enable people caught in a crisis to send and receive messages across numerous communications and media channels.

The Future of Crisis Communications and Incident Response

According to the Brookings Institution, services such as these herald the future of crisis communications and incident response, offering clear advantages over traditional alert mechanisms an enterprise would rely on via state and national governments. For one, a system with centralized safety alerts makes reporting much less sporadic when crises are widespread, allowing IT teams to instantly relay messages to users so that they are better able to contain the situation — and solve issues related to telephone networks, which often clog up from excessive levels of traffic while it’s happening. With its widespread use, these services — social media-based or otherwise — may ultimately satisfy the need for a strong global crisis communication tool that any business can use when an incident threatens their resources or staff.

Services offered by social networking platforms are an interesting development for communicating during a crisis, but are currently limited in what they offer when one takes place. Crisis communications and incident reporting is still in its infancy, though, and more features will be added over time. Individuals caught up in a hazardous situation may soon be able to deliver pertinent details that help first responders and law enforcement while keeping themselves safe at the same time.

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About The Author

Fran Howarth

Freelance Writer

Fran Howarth is an industry analyst and writer specializing in cybersecurity. She has worked within the security technology sector for more than 25 years in an advisory capacity as an analyst, consultant and writer. Fran focuses on the business needs for security technologies, with a focus on emerging technology sectors. Current areas of focus include cloud security, data security, identity and access management, network and endpoint security, security intelligence and analytics and security governance and regulations. Fran can be reached at

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