Building operational resilience through threat intelligence and communications technology.
We all understand that severe weather events take a toll on property and lives. For businesses, extreme weather events can cause loss of revenues and productivity, from people being unable to get to work to shutdowns of proprietary technology and production lines.
But managers and executives can proactively manage disastrous weather events to protect their assets through real-time communication such as emergency mass communication systems, threat intelligence, and advanced preparedness plans.
2022 Natural Disasters
Since 1970, natural disasters have escalated rapidly, and climate change has contributed to many of these events. Although there was a slight dip in 2022, experts anticipate the trend will continue to increase. In 2020, there were 421 separate events worldwide, causing over 31,000 deaths and about $313 billion in insured losses. Insured losses are trending 57% higher in the past 22 years.
According to The National Centers for Environmental Information, in 2022, there were 18 weather or climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each that affected the United States, which reached far above any other year’s damage recorded since 1980. Last year, the United States had 18 natural disasters, 474 deaths and $165.5 billion in economic losses. In the previous four years, the U.S. has seen more than three times the number of natural disasters in the last 22 years.
The most significant three events were:
- East Coast hurricanes Ian, Nicole and Fiona.
- Flooding in the Midwest states
- California wildfires
In the U.S., three hurricanes, Ian, Nicole and Fiona, loomed over the Atlantic Coast in 2022. In September, Ian, a Category 4 hurricane, was the fifth strongest hurricane ever to make landfall and is now ranked as one of the top ten most costly hurricanes in U.S. history. In addition, hurricane Ian was second only to Katrina in insured losses.
In the summer of 2022, flash flooding severely impacted Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Nevada. These floods resulted in 13.5 billion in insurance claims, 106 deaths and 3.1 million combined working days lost due to infrastructure shutdowns. First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group and Arup, a commercial engineering firm, estimated that retail, office and multi-unit residential properties lost more than $13.5 billion in 2022 from flood damage.
The wildfires in California continued in 2022. In 2021, the wildfires destroyed 2.5 million acres and about 4,000 structures were destroyed. This is four times as many as the previous year. 2020 marked the worst year for wildfires covering 4.3 million acres, 33 fatalities and over 11,000 structures destroyed. Although wildfires trended down in 2022, this is attributed to the state preparation measures and sound forest management.
Importance of communication plans and processes
Insured losses and loss of life from natural disasters can be mitigated with the right technology. Proper monitoring and communications technology can prevent much of the financial and human damages. Going through these events will be much more challenging if you don’t have your technology and processes in place before a natural disaster.
Mark Hoffman has much experience working with companies’ emergency preparedness plans and improving crisis management. He believes crisis managers who treat crisis management as an afterthought put them behind in responding to an event.
In his experience, many companies have hybrid work environments, which makes it challenging to have a line of sight over the different areas of responsibilities, locations and time zones. Organizations that do not plan do not realize the magnitude of navigating through these challenges, resulting in an ineffective response to a crisis.
If processes are not defined and protocols are not in place, response time to a crisis slows significantly and staying in touch with those affected is difficult.
For example, one client of Mark’s experienced a civil unrest situation near one of their places of business. Because management did not have processes, procedures and communication plans in place, it took them 48 hours from the time of the incident to account for 80 people and understand whether there was any impact on the business.
Using threat intelligence to prepare for a crisis
Julie Morse suggests building awareness about an effective communication plan to prepare for natural disasters and other critical events. For example, many companies use threat intelligence or threat detection and mass notification systems tools to achieve better communication during a crisis such as a natural disaster.
Threat intelligence, sometimes called threat detection, is a way to become aware of potential risks and threats to your organization. A system like TX360 monitors threats for the business and proactively notifies managers of any issues or concerning events. This technology can automate this process, streamline the information flow and help communication across silos.
Threat intelligence software can filter intelligence for specific topics or geofencing for particular locations. This filtering brings more relevant information to recipients about who an upcoming event will impact so that teams can prepare and respond and reduce the negative impact on loss of property and lives.
Threat intelligence also helps organizations stay ahead of those risks and maintain business continuity. Threat intelligence is a 24/7 function that supports day-to-day operations for organizations, which is important even before a crisis occurs. For example, relevant information such as power utility status or a change to a wildfire boundary zone can help prepare organizations for an impending crisis.
Threat intelligence provides leaders and employees with critical information to increase the overall resilience of a company.
How does TX360 threat intelligence work?
The TX360 system is cloud-based and monitors open-source information from thousands of sources worldwide. The system looks at over 12 million events every month. The types of sources TX360 monitors include:
- News RSS feeds
- Official government agencies
- Police, fire and emergency communications
- Social media
The information TX360 monitors are accessible via a web browser, which acts as a snapshot view and proactively delivers essential information via email and text. In addition, the dashboard view helps organizations visualize the data in various views, such as by location or topic.
For example, during Hurricane Irma, a typical dashboard would provide team members with the latest updates, such as the storm’s path, power utility updates and FEMA alerts. In addition, camera views are provided where they are located. All functions are customizable for each client.
Julie emphasized that not all threat intelligence is equally important for everyone. The human analyst and threat intelligence technology complement each other, and each has its distinct strengths. So, a team of analysts reviews and verifies the information, so when you receive alerts, you know they are reliable and relevant. This forward-looking information is valuable to clients, and most organizations view TX360 as an extension of their internal team.
How mass communication systems can help improve crisis management
Once an organization identifies relevant threat intelligence, they need a reliable tool to send critical alerts to those impacted. Sending messages to potentially thousands of people requires an easy-to-use tool within a robust system.
An emergency mass communication system should provide a user with a straightforward way of triggering and sending messages. For example, a desktop tool is helpful for sending mass communications; however, a backup mobile app with almost an identical look to the web version makes activating notifications easier.
Jeff Brainard, Senior Account Executive with Regroup Mass Notification, also highlighted that the Regroup system includes many options to decrease response time when sending mass alerts. For example, Regroup partners with TX360 to automate notifications for threat intelligence. The Regroup system can send messages in many ways, such as via email, text/SMS, push notifications, desktop alerts, voice calls, digital signage, PA systems, website portals, social media outlets and more.
In addition, since many organizations have moved to various forms of remote work since the pandemic, the ability for a mass notification system to integrate with work-related software such as Teams and Slack is vital. Regroup also integrates with an organization’s existing systems. In Jeff’s experience, this is especially helpful for Human Resources and Supply Chain.
Why does Regroup Mass Notification work well during a natural disaster or crisis?
The Regroup Mass Notification system allows one-way and two-way communication. For example, an organization may want to conduct employee welfare checks after a storm. The response from those affected should help an organization send resources to specific people.
In addition, the Regroup system allows organizations to send communications within a specific geographic area. As a result, users can draw boundaries around distinct areas that align with threat intelligence. This capability is becoming more relevant for organizations with a diverse workforce working outside the organization’s primary location and helps organizations understand the impact of critical events. And like TX360, Regroup Mass Notification works globally and can automatically translate messages in over 80 languages.
Another essential feature of a mass communication system is communication templates. Pre-written messages through templates can reduce the time it takes to communicate with affected parties. Templates can also include important documents and relevant images.
Finally, a mass communication system like Regroup should provide reporting, so organizations can view how many messages were sent and delivered. Regroup automatically creates a dashboard for admins with this type of reporting. For example, when a communication is sent out regarding a storm’s path, recipients may have changed their cell phone plan. These errors will automatically appear in the admin dashboard, so they can quickly start trying to reach them in other ways.
Threat intelligence and mass communication systems in action
The webinar panel provided an example of how threat intelligence works with a mass notification system to improve response time during natural disasters like hurricanes.
For example, once a relevant hurricane threat is identified by the TX360 monitoring and verified by human intelligence, a panic alert can be sent from the Regroup mobile app, which can also help identify where an event is occurring.
For most clients, the next step would be to appraise the situation and assemble an emergency response team. The TX360 and Regroup dashboard can be shared across the team to help build a common operating picture.
When responding to an event, a single communication platform that can quickly dispatch and monitor information is vital to improving response time during a crisis. In addition, specific communications can be sent to different groups, for example, if you are a first responder, emergency manager or in government. Finally, two-way communication to share necessary information can provide organizations with an effective way to respond to and manage critical events.
The landscape of threats is ever-changing. Organizations can mitigate the impacts of critical events such as natural disasters using threat intelligence technology and mass notification systems. Identifying, monitoring and evaluating relevant threats helps eliminate an organization’s blind spots and helps protect its assets.
Using a mass notification system along with threat intelligence can reduce the response time during a crisis, which mitigates the loss of property and lives. Managing the responses and providing relevant updates is essential for any organization’s crisis management plan. As Mark Hoffman said, “there’s enough chaos and stress in the life of a crisis manager and having the right tools to respond makes the job easier.”
TX360 is an all-hazards threat monitoring and situational awareness service that enables highly secure and targeted delivery of critical information to security professionals and corporate leaders, often in a Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) setting. TX360 supports corporate clients with agile, intelligent, high-trust information services that help keep people, assets, information, and critical infrastructure safe. To learn more about TX360, visit
About Regroup Mass Notification
Since 2006, Regroup Mass Notification has provided a robust and reliable mass alert platform trusted by healthcare, enterprise, higher education and more. Regroup empowers more effective communication, keeping people safe and informed at all times. The company’s award-winning, cloud-based mass communication platform is what clients around the globe rely on to send emergency and day-to-day communications to millions of people.
With simplified messaging to mobile devices, landlines, social media, email, websites and more, Regroup helps organizations keep people safe during critical events and helps strengthen operational resilience every day. Learn more about Regroup at www.regroup.com or contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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