John Malevich and Harold Chadwick both served in the Canadian army for more than 25 years, and draw from their experience in dangerous situations in their current jobs, which frequently involve teaching others how to respond to workplace emergencies.
During the World Conference on Disaster Management (WCDM) in Mississauga, Ontario, they sat down with ITBusiness.ca to discuss four ways technology can augment emergency response efforts.
Mass notification systems
When most people hear the phrase “workplace emergency,” they imagine a receptionist letting everyone know they need to leave their desks and meet their colleagues in a designated area, says Malevich, who currently serves as the business development manager with Siemens Canada’s security division.
But if the emergency involves firearms, the receptionist often the first person shot, he says.
Moreover, today’s employees are more likely to receive a message on their cellphone – be it a text, email, or social media notification – than they are to hear something over a loudspeaker.
“Through mass notification, you put Twitter, Facebook, and SMS all together and bombard your workplace, with everyone getting a message across the whole spectrum of media, letting them know there’s an emergency and what they need to do about it,” Malevich says.
Mass notification systems can also be linked to audible gunshot detectors – important in situations where gun violence is a risk – and automatically alert not only security staff that an incident is happening, but send out a notification to emergency services as well.
During their WCDM presentation on workplace safety, Malevich and Chadwick, who presently serves as the director of SARI (Security And Resilience associates International) were asked by an attendee how her friend could best respond to a stalker.
The answer, Malevich told ITBusiness.ca, is closed circuit television (CCTV); using services such as Siemens’ SiteIQ Intelligent Video, emergency response units can log into a business’s surveillance system to ensure everyone both inside and out is safe.
A worker who fears they are being stalked can then collaborate with their employer’s security provider to receive a CCTV escort from their office to their car.
“We’re finding that more and more the parking lot is a place where we’re seeing violence,” Malevich notes.
Social media monitoring
Chadwick, whose field experience with Canada’s armed forces included operations in the Balkans, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan, likens social media monitoring to “scanning your horizon” in a war zone.
“When defending something, you’re trying to get in as early as possible and notify your allies of any threat,” he says. With online reputation management programs such as Reputation Defender, “you’re scanning your digital horizon for threats against your reputation.”
Equally important to knowing whether someone is raging against your company or its employees is reducing or erasing your firm’s digital fingerprints, Chadwick adds.
“If I was an adversary, and I wanted to conduct an assault on your business, how much information can I get online that will tell me what kind of security you have,” he says. “Are you accessible from the outside? Can I see where your cameras are?”
Chadwick suggests hiring a “red team” security consulting firm to identify everything a determined adversary could find out, and advise accordingly.
“Don’t put everything on the web – as a matter of course, put out everything – because your enemies will mine that data and they will find a hole in your armour,” he says.
Entrance and exit security
One of the easiest – and most easily overlooked – ways to prevent workplace violence is to secure your company’s entrances and exits, Siemens’ Malevich says.
“Taking passes away from people when they’re fired and deactivating them is a big component of controlling who enters and leaves your building,” he says. “And in an active situation, you can link your doors to a central control system, so you can open doors for people to exit, and lock them to prevent attackers from moving around.”