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Transport & logistics crisis communications technologies

Photo of David Gilbert, VP of Americas

David Gilbert

VP Americas

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1 Oct 2018
4 min read
A blue passenger train on an old brick bridge with forest surrounding

Transportation has always been a hazardous business. Vehicles crash, cargo is a tempting target and people are always unpredictable.

The growth of interconnected global supply chains has added other larger dimensions to these physical challenges. Dependence on critical IT systems and the security threat from cyber-attacks make technology an increasing vulnerability.

Further, reliance on partners, geopolitical dynamics, and changing customer demands all add to the potential for market & business model failure. 

Thorough planning for a potential crisis and having the right crisis communication strategy in place improves your ability to respond effectively when incidents inevitably occur, including:

  • Increased speed of response;

  • Improved situational awareness;

  • Streamlined crisis communication processes; and

  • Faster decision making

We’ve previously looked at the major threats to the sector, and discussed a framework for effective crisis planning and response.

Let's take a closer look now at the best practice communications tools that are being used to support crisis management planning, and how these can be used to ensure a safer workforce and protect your organization's reputation.

State-of-the-art crisis communications technology tips

1. Proactive & effective communications scenario planning

The first step is to have a clearly defined crisis communications plan in place to address a wide range of plausible crisis scenarios. This makes it easier to send a quick response, improves the accuracy of contact, reduces the potential negative effect the crisis may cause, and ensures the right people can be reached in a timely manner with relevant information. Modern crisis communications tools should have the capability of adapting to all possible scenarios and plans.

2. Multi-channel messaging

Traditional, manual contact processes, such as phone trees, with team members making calls, or even email are typically too slow to execute, and might not reach affected stakeholders in time in the event of a crisis situation. Send messages to your staff, customers, and the general public in the way that suits them, whether that’s voiceSMSsocial media, messaging apps, RSS feeds, or email, to improve the rates of delivery. Knowing they will almost always have their mobiles close allows organisations to provide messages on all these channels. Geo-location can segment communications even further, such as providing multilingual messages appropriate to the recipient’s location or pre-defined contact information. It’s not enough to just send messages, there needs to be a system in place to track receipt, allow the receiver to respond as needed, provide additional information quickly, and escalate when required.

3. Message templates

Message templates should be prepared with specifics your crisis communications team can rapidly use or alter during incidents, thereby ensuring approved language, structure & consistency and lowering the risk of collateral reputational damage. These can built to suit the major scenarios identified in the planning process, such as vehicle crashes, hazardous goods spills, natural disasters, etc, saving time with a pre-defined communication plan and response options.

4. Geo-location and vehicle telematics

GPS-supported telematics systems provide complete, up-to-the-minute knowledge of fleet activities in one centralized, web-based interface, helping to improve the efficiency, safety, and security of the fleet and drivers.

5. Lone worker management

Many transportation staff work alone, and often in remote and hazardous conditions. Maintaining interactive internal communication with Lone Workers through automated geo-location tracking, and simplified work and situational status reporting is vital to ensuring these crews have the confidence and tools to operate effectively.

6. Incident reporting and tracking

When an incident occurs, your crisis management team and general staff on-site need accessible tools that can capture all the relevant details like simplified, pre-populated forms, and the ability to take photos. These reports should be trackable and actionable from a single source of truth reporting system.

7. Rapid communication

When getting important information out quickly is required, SMS is the ideal communication channel. Whereas half of all emails aren’t opened for at least six hours, the average text message is accessed within a few minutes and responded to within 30 minutes. Voice calls to mobile and fixed lines generate an even faster response and can be created to trigger automatically from the communications platform.

8. Message automation

Where possible, communications platforms should be integrated with management & monitoring systems, allowing details to be auto-populated into message templates. Incidents can be raised automatically and sent directly to the coordination & resolution teams.

Integrated communications platforms

Programs that are ideal for implementing a crisis response strategy are built around cross-channel communications platforms, which provide interactive, responsive contact flows, comprehensive reporting, and message delivery status transparency for key staff and senior stakeholders.

Communications automation and workflow acceleration, combined with integrated monitoring systems, provide BCM leaders with a unique and powerful opportunity to plan and streamline critical risk communication.

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