Critical Event Management

How to Evaluate Critical Event Management Software

By Sarah Perry

Just about every organization will face a critical event at some point, and many will deal with multiple critical events in a year. An increasing number of companies are realizing the benefit of incorporating critical event management platform that will enable a cross-functional approach to managing any type of crisis. 

A staggering variety of critical event management (CEM) software solutions are available on the market, and the technology is constantly evolving. It can be overwhelming to sift through the options, so to help narrow it down, try evaluating how each CEM solution stacks up with regard to available features, speed and accuracy, security and reliability, easy integration and vendor support and experience. 

Available Features

Critical event management software has been infused with cutting-edge technologies related to artificial intelligence, automation, data aggregation and analytics and application programming interfacing (API). This technological integration has enabled crisis management experts to utilize artificial intelligence in order to be more effective than ever before. With the amount of available data available today—from traditional and social media to police and government alerts to weather reports to online datasets—it’s nearly impossible for humans to manually analyze intelligence quickly enough to respond to potential threats.

An AI-powered CEM platform is capable of providing coverage by sifting through massive amounts of data and monitoring hundreds of thousands of critical events each day. The technology should be able to deliver actionable intelligence about how potential threats could impact stakeholder safety and pose a risk to your assets, supply chains, cybersecurity and more. It should also be able to pinpoint people at risk, locate responders in the area,  alert the crisis management team to threats, predict likely scenarios and cascading events and track the progress of response plans. Look for software that incorporates all of these tools and features and allows your team to visualize relevant threats through a user-friendly dashboard.

Easy Integration with Mass Notification Systems  

In addition to monitoring and analyzing potential threats, the CEM platform should be able to integrate with an emergency mass notification system (EMNS) and other critical applications in order to provide end-to-end threat intelligence and response capabilities. Once a threat has been identified, your crisis management team will need to alert relevant stakeholders immediately. 

The API of the EMNS should enable your team to send notifications on a variety of communication channels, including text, email, phone, desktop, satellite phones and more. Ideally, the technology also allows your planning team to hop on a conference call and make quick decisions about a response. Two-way communications and geo-targeted messaging are crucial to ensure all stakeholders in the area are notified and able to reach out to request assistance or additional information.

Speed and Accuracy

In the event of an emergency, every second can make a life-saving difference. That’s why you should evaluate the speed and accuracy of your CEM platform options. The software should be able to detect potential threats within minutes and immediately relay the event type, severity, location and other details. For example, OnSolve’s AI-powered risk intelligence solution was able to detect a West Bank shooting in four minutes, which is lightning-speed when compared with the 51 minutes it took using human monitoring and 40 minutes it took using social media.

In addition to speed, accuracy is essential in a critical event management platform. It should base its assessments on limited or faulty data that has the potential to offer up false alerts, which could lead to a PR nightmare. CEM software should draw from both structured and unstructured data, cross-reference intelligence to verify authenticity, and use contextual clues such as location, time and event type to gather a full picture of the situation. 

Security and Reliability

Make sure any CEM platform you’re considering offers a high level of security, and if it’s not hosted on-site, make sure the vendor partners with a compliant data center. All sensitive data should be properly encrypted, and the vendor and data center should have a good reputation and a track record of effective use.

In addition to security, make sure the platform is reliable. If the system breaks down in the midst of a crisis, your stakeholders, assets, and reputation could be jeopardized. Look for a vendor partner that incorporates redundancy and geographically dispersed data centers so there are backup and overflow options in case a network is overwhelmed or a data center is compromised. 

Vendor Support and Experience

You need to know that the vendor you choose will be able to support you during a crisis. Check to see whether the critical event management software comes with any support, and if so, make sure the vendor will be able to handle high strain during a crisis and has a good track record of supporting clients.

As you’re evaluating vendors, look for those with a high level of expertise. The more experience the better, and bonus points if the vendor has extensive experience in your industry. Managing critical events for a company in the retail industry is going to be significantly different than it would be for an organization in the healthcare industry. Vendors with firsthand experience managing the types of crises your company is likely to face will be better equipped to support your organization.