Emergency Comms Survey Reveals Top Concerns for Public Sector Decision Makers


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A good reminder for state and local governments: Is your employee contact information up to date?

After a difficult hurricane season, a multitude of flood events and ferocious wildfires in western states, it’s probably not much of a surprise that severe and extreme weather are the types of events that concern public sector decision makers the most when it comes to their organization’s emergency communications and response.

That’s according to the recently released OnSolve Crisis Communications and Emergency Notification Survey, which found that 48 percent of public sector decision makers put severe and extreme weather events at the top of their worry list, followed by active shooting situations (23 percent); cybersecurity attacks (9 percent); IT outages (8 percent); and workplace violence (3 percent).

But digging into the survey results a little bit further, there are some interesting findings, especially for anyone who may need to contact their employees during an emergency situation and fears dialing phone numbers from a potentially outdated list.

  • Email is still the primary way to relay incident notification to workforces. Sixty-four percent of organizations reported using an email-based Emergency Mass Notification Service, while 36 percent use text messaging, 17 percent use desktop alerts and 9 percent used a mobile app.
  • Geographically dispersed workforces present challenges for emergency communications. According to the survey, 38 percent of public sector organizations said that their “primary challenge” with workforce notifications is reaching workers spread across multiple locations in the U.S. and overseas.
  • Regarding cybersecurity incidents that require rapid notification across a workforce, 66 percent of respondents said malware was a main concern. Sixty-four percent answered ransomware while 57 percent indicated phishing, 44 percent said compromised business email and 29 percent said rogue software.
  • Seventeen percent of respondents said that their primary concern with emergency communications was not having up-to-date employee contact information. Only 29 percent of respondents said they were “very confident” that their employee contact information was current and accurate.
  • According to the OnSolve survey, public sector organizations want emergency alerting service to have “reporting tools.” Twenty-one percent of decision makers who responded said that “reporting was the most important EMNS feature,” followed by integration with other applications like customer-relation management and BC tools (18 percent); geographical tracking (17 percent); two-way communication (17 percent); mobile app (11 percent); polling (9 percent); a conference bridge (4 percent).

“The survey affirms that public sector leaders are turning to innovative mass notification solutions not only to keep employees safe, but ensure reliable risk management and business continuity of operations—including crisis management, IT service management, corporate communications, supply chain management, event management, or any scenario that demands reliable two-way notification for groups from one to many thousands,” Ann Pickren, president of Ormond Beach, Florida-based OnSolve, which provides Software-as-a-Service-based emergency communication solutions.

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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