What is Crisis Communication?

Crisis communication helps protect personnel and infrastructure, communicate internally and externally, and collaborate in times of crisis.

No organization ever wishes to be in a crisis; a situation that threatens people or property, interrupts business operations, and/or causes significant damage to your reputation, your community, or your bottom line.

Basic measures ensure effective crisis communication can be an organized, straightforward process. The key is taking these measures before a crisis occurs. No matter your industry, saving lives is of primary concern. It is of the utmost importance that organizations protect their people and community from harm.

When is Crisis Communication Needed?

Shootings and Attacks In this nightmare scenario, a great deal of panic causes widespread disorganization. For example, a Los Angeles International Airport shooting incident led to more than 20 agencies responding at the same time. There was no interoperable communication platform to coordinate efforts among the commanders. Effective responses were delayed until a more unified command center was established. While confusion reigned, dozens of people remained under threat or active attack.

Shootings and Attacks

Sudden Natural Disasters

Sudden Natural DisastersTsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and unexpectedly severe hurricanes have risen in frequency in recent decades. It can be difficult to quickly alert multiple groups to major immediate risk – especially when there are conflicting reports about evacuations, severity levels, and imminent danger. Roads are blocked, mass groups of people attempt to move in the same direction, and survival instincts kick into high-gear. If cell phone towers and electricity are knocked out, backup emergency mass notification systems can mean the difference between life and death.

IntrusionsWhen dealing with valuable equipment, regulated substances or high-traffic volume areas, intrusions may occur unexpectedly. For example, an intruder may produce a knife or gun and threaten overnight hospital staff unless they hand over medication or controlled substances. If staff are threatened with danger and call security, they may panic. Without a control center that can silently alert security, there is a much lower chance of disarming an intruder.



AccidentsChemical explosions, airplane crashes, fires, and train derailments; these horrific situations often impact thousands of people at once. It's a challenge to know in real-time where various staff members are located, who is okay, who is ready and willing to deploy help, and how to respond. Disparate communications systems can delay effective response and cause major confusion.

What Happens Without Crisis Communication?

Sailing by on the assumption that a crisis won't happen to you can have grave consequences. Without preparation, you could be maximizing damage. Often, the most severe consequences from a disaster or crisis stem from a failure to address communications issues.

The following are typical results of a crisis communication breakdown:

  • Operations are interrupted or stop altogether

  • Community members, investors, employees, partners, and clients become disillusioned and angry

  • Resolutions become more complex and take more time to achieve

  • Negative reputational attributes are associated with the organization

  • Financial bottom lines are damaged for the long-term or sometimes permanently

  • Lives Are

Crisis Communication Solutions

BlackBerry AtHoc's Secure Crisis Communication Platform is used by organizations around the globe to ensure the safety of personnel and assets. The system is used by organizations that range in size from a few hundred to thousands of people, and from one location to dozens across the world. In the governmental sector, more than 70% of all US federal government employees are protected by BlackBerry AtHoc.

The BlackBerry AtHoc platform contains four products:

  • Alert


  • Capture


  • Account


  • Connect


  • AtHoc Alert is a comprehensive end-to-end emergency notification system. It unifies all communication modalities to alert everyone with a single click.

    Using a web-based console, smartphone, or tablet, emergency managers can provide two-way communication across the entire enterprise or community to almost any device, delivering essential messages with real-time speed and assured reach.

    AtHoc Alert In Action:

    • Following a fire at an industrial petrochemical site, a health and safety manager alerts people based on organizational structure, distribution lists, physical location, individual name, and dynamic database query to contain the damage
    • When a video surveillance alarm goes off due to a possible intruder, AtHoc Alert monitors and can use pre-configured business rules to activate emergency measures and lock down the premises
    • After a severe hurricane, alerts are issued that provide instructions, and AtHoc Alert creates a cascaded summary report that includes targeted, sent, received and acknowledged alerts to show the sum total of alert activity from sub-virtual systems.

    AtHoc Alert Features:

    • Use market-leading tools that streamline communication from pre-configured templates and custom fields, to geolocation targeting and teleconferencing
    • Integrate crisis communication from access controls and social media to fire panels, sirens, mobile app, desktop, two-way radios, and wearable devices
    • Implement secure public cloud or patented hybrid deployment to maximize security and privacy while gaining scale and flexibility
    • Leverage enterprise capabilities to delegate system management to local points of contacts while maintaining control
    • Simplify contact management with LDAP integration and self-service portal
  • AtHoc Collect is for field situation reporting. It empowers personnel in the field to be the "eyes and ears" of the operations center. It enables on-scene personnel to report events and work progress, along with rich geo-tagged media that are worth a thousand words.

    Individuals can feel safe knowing that they have a discreet way of alerting emergency personnel anytime, anywhere. With a swipe of a button, the exact location and status will be transmitted to the appropriate personnel for a more effective response.

    AtHoc Collect In Action:

    • Following an earthquake, a damage assessment team reports and submits images directly from the scene to their command center, which streamlines recovery efforts
    • A home health worker reports a patient's medical condition and gets in-field medical instructions
    • A security officer reports a breach in a fence's perimeter, and includes photos and the exact coordinates on a map, which enables rapid assessment and timely response

    AtHoc Collect Features:

    • Create efficient workflows
    • View and manage field reports
    • Protect your personnel with a smart alarm
    • Initiate a request for immediate help while relaying user identity and location
    • Provide every person the ability to be discreet when notifying their personal security
    • Monitor remote personnel status and be proactive before incidents can occur
  • Account for 100% of your people and achieve operational efficiency. For federal agencies, AtHoc Account delivers an automated, efficient, FedRAMP authorized solution to account for people in real-time.

    With AtHoc Account, you always have a single, up-to-date dashboard that aggregates user status set by alert responses, system operators, call center employees, and designated Accountability Officers. At any point, you can quickly export the consolidated as a PDF with charts and graphs to communicate out.

    AtHoc Account In Action:

    • After a hazardous spill at oil and gas facility, a security manager is able to see who exactly is on-site, including all vendors, visitors, subcontractors, employees and workers in order to get a larger picture of the safety and security implications
    • A government agency must meet federal mandates for compliance with the FedRAMP program in order to perform cloud-based IT operations; AtHoc Account creates automated, efficient, FedRAMP authorized solutions to account for personnel in real-time
    • An airport has disparate personnel who are constantly on-the-go and difficult to keep track of; AtHoc Account creates automated reports that account for 100% of personnel while eliminating guesswork and mistakes found in manually gathered reports

    AtHoc Account Features:

    • Automate your personnel accountability process, so you can improve the quality of the results
    • Comply with federal mandates
    • Serve as a single authoritative source for accountability information
    • Compile safety details from multiple sources including directly from:
      • Individuals
      • Call centers
      • People responding on behalf of others
      • Accountability officers
      • 3rd party integrations
    • Integrate with the BlackBerry AtHoc platform, creating a unified crisis communication solution
  • AtHoc Connect accounts for the fact that emergencies don't happen in isolation. AtHoc Connect bridges the communication gap between organizations during a crisis.

    It allows organizations to share authoritative information with external targeted organizations, agencies, and the public in real time during crises. This empowers the connected community to collectively assess situations and provide a coordinated response to protect lives and property.

    AtHoc Connect In Action:

    • Following a terrorist attack, an employee shares situational awareness with HQ and across a permission-based network of organizations to strengthen coordination when every second counts
    • A county with six different facilities and hazardous materials experiences a sudden explosion in one of the facilities, so an employee notifies only the necessary personnel and first responders to quickly contain the explosion, without causing major alarm in the community
    • Following a cybersecurity breach, IT experts are able to reach out to organizations whose data may have been impacted and quickly advise on emergency security measures, without causing widespread panic across all parts of the organizations

    AtHoc Connect Features:

    • Seamlessly connect with community organizations before or during an event
    • Be confident that communications have reached connected organizations within a single workflow, without having to pick up a phone or radio
    • Eliminate the need to manage contacts of external organizations
    • Receive relevant information from other organizations, and external content feeds

A Critical Communication Solution Can Mean The Difference Between: Safety and Danger, Crisis Containment and Exacerbation, Protection and Destruction, Life and Death

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