How to communicate when services are down

Hurricane Sandy brought with her many lessons, not the least of which is how to communicate when the usual systems are down. As is often the case, many people who found themselves in the thick of the floods, outages, high winds and general disruption caused by Sandy were more likely to reach someone in California on a cell phone than someone on the same block. This was good for those who wanted to reach out to family across the nation, but not so good for those who need to reach someone in a nearby office building to give them direction. Even with the best notification system available, when huge swaths of your local infrastructure are down, it can be exceedingly difficult to deliver important information during a crisis.

One smart emergency management team came up with an innovative solution and had the chance to prove their concept in the thick of recent storms. Using their notification system they set up a bulletin board, or hotline, well in advance of the storm. As Hurricane Sandy approached, they promoted the bulletin board number widely to employees. When the storm hit, employees who may not have been able to receive alerts from the usual emergency notification system as the storm raged knew exactly where to go for information. The emergency management team did their part by regularly updating messages to the hotline so employees could check in at any time and get the very latest news and status.

The system worked beautifully and employees found it to be an important information source both through the storm and during the disaster recovery phase. The company plans to use a bulletin board as a standard part of their emergency notification strategy in the future, as well as sending alerts and updates by phone, email and SMS as they have in the past.

Looking for more ideas on how you can use notification effectively? Check out this post.