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Transport & logistics crisis communications technologies

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Dennis Adonis


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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 makes 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 crisis planning and having the right tools 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.

Lets take a closer look now at the best practice communications tools that are being used to support crisis panning, and how these can be used to ensure a safer workforce and protect corporate reputation.

State of the Art Crisis Communications Technology Tips

1. Proactive Communications Scenario Planning

Having a clearly defined plan in place for communicating in a wide range of plausible scenarios cuts down response time, improves accuracy of contact, and ensures the right people can be reached in a timely manner.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 teams of people making calls, or even email are typically too slow to execute, and might not reach affected stakeholders in time. Send messages to your staff and customers 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 preferences.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, and escalate when required.

3. Message Templates

Message templates should be prepared with specifics which can be rapidly used or altered during incidents, thereby ensuring approved language, structure & consistency. These can built to suit the major scenarios identified in the planning process, such as vehicle crashes, hazardous goods spills, etc, saving time with pre-defined communication 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 contact 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, 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 urgent communication is required, SMS accelerates the speed of notification. 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

Best practice crisis response programs 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 communications.

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