/ Emergency preparedness: the reality of real-time response in a post-pandemic world

Emergency preparedness: the reality of real-time response in a post-pandemic world

Something unexpected from the COVID-19 pandemic that will have a lasting impact is that it’s now universally understood how important real-time data and decision-making are at every level of society.



Both government and private organizations are relying on fast-moving streams of data for very public decision-making: numbers of cases, numbers of tests available, number of states reopening, and so much more.

As companies around the globe move past the first wave of emergency to get their workforces back in action, they need to normalize and adopt this behavior in the day-to-day running of their businesses.

Making the wrong decision—one not backed by data—can not only harm the safety of employees and customers, but the health of the balance sheet, even.

So what exactly should organizations be watching out for? What real-time data and emergency responses are necessary for getting your business back in action?

From workplace safety to consumer confidence to supply chain complications, a complex web of issues must be considered. All may vary at a local, national, and international level, but old systems and models must be adapted in order to cope.

Here, we explore the three aforementioned issues, and provide tips for how to tackle each one with real-time data.




Keeping your workforce safe

The first and most obvious question is simply: “How safe is our workplace right now? Not this quarter, month or even week, but right now?”

Answering that question requires real-time data related to potential outbreaks and clear knowledge that new processes designed for workplace safety (cleaning, temperature checks, contact tracing, travel patterns, etc.) are maintained and up to date.

Many employees are going to be asked or required to participate in COVID-19 contact tracing programs. This means their movement around the office and interactions with other connected employees will be monitored in real-time in order to quickly address a potential outbreak.

If a COVID-19 incident is suspected, alerts will also be needed in real-time so that response action plans can be activated. Employees will need to be directed toward appropriate medical care following the direction of local health authorities. Companies will then need to conduct an additional cleaning and disinfecting protocol of areas that the employees had occupied during their time in the office. And in the event of a confirmed case, an employee’s workspace or office will need to be removed from service to undergo a special cleaning protocol by licensed third-party experts.

Workplaces should also find new ways to make this information readily accessible, whether it’s real-time dashboards projected throughout shared spaces within offices, more robust internal online communication portals, or employee-specific mobile apps. Clear communication across the organization is absolutely key.




Ensuring consumer confidence

Steps will also be required for customer-facing enticements—but with the added complication that your customers cannot be expected to be as well-informed as your staff about specific procedures and protocols, which increases the risk factor.

Companies that provide in-person entertainment and business services are on the frontlines of designing ways to enhance safety and minimize risk. The hygiene and sanitation practices of event spaces need to meet or exceed not only requirements and the recommendations of regulatory bodies like the CDC or local public health departments, they need to address the concerns of consumers.

The type of data that can be collected will vary accordingly. Technology such as thermal cameras at entry points, allowing for discreet and non-invasive temperature checks, could be considered where appropriate. Just like in the workplace, simply performing the right checks will not be enough and customers will want to see the evidence.

This will be a radical departure for companies and consumers who have never had to proactively interact with other concerning public health issues. Being responsive to issues in the event of an outbreak will be paramount to maintaining trust.




Overcoming supply chain complications

Finally, for product-based companies, perhaps the biggest issue of all is that of supply and demand. The first quarter of 2020 saw the U.S. economy shrink by 4.8%, and worldwide recessions are predicted. That means both retailers and manufacturers will need to be fast to adapt to the latest data.

Manufacturers routinely monitor inventory, production efficiency, and available supply of parts in real-time to ensure as few disruptions as possible. But this will be even more vital to maintain business continuity.

Factories and warehouses will now also need to be equipped with new technologies, such as disinfectant sprayers (and eventually electrostatic sprayers)—and such cleaning activities will need to be tracked appropriately. As well, any small-scale outbreaks will need to be closely managed to avoid snowballing and impacting the broader supply processes.

Across all these areas of business, the risks from the COVID-19 pandemic won’t go away as this major first wave subsides. Businesses must learn about and deploy real-time capabilities if they want to recover or even survive in the challenging business environment ahead.

Check out some related resources:

'Future of Work' E-book: How to Safely Reopen the Workplace

Enterprise contact tracing: crawl, walk and then run

Get Back to Work: 9 Success Factors in Returning to a Physical Facility

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