Coronavirus: Intelligence is key to mitigating risk

Javier Colado, Head of International at Everbridge
- Leadership - Mar 06, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is spreading fast and as entire nations scramble to gain control, business leaders are assessing their own ability to manage the threat to employees, assets, facilities, supply chains, and even their brand. 

This situation is urgent, but it also highlights the importance of preparedness for any emergency or critical event, and undoubtedly focuses minds on how people can be kept safe and businesses running, not just now, but in the face of other crises.  

The key is access to the right intelligence to monitor real-time local, national and global risks, correlating those threats to important business assets, and ensuring that the organisation can quickly automate response and communications protocols. 

When it comes to dealing with coronavirus, two elements are crucial – a preparation strategy to help sustain operations and dedicated critical event management technology. 

The components of a preparation strategy

  • Leadership/Decision Making – Implement an infectious disease coordination unit as part of the business continuity function. This allows decisions to be made in a timely and effective manner and avoids long delays caused by indecision or lack of clarity. 

  • Education – Employees must know what’s expected from them. Should they stay at home? Do operating procedures change with employees absent? Provide information about prevention and treatment. 

  • Public/Private Partnerships – Develop and maintain relationships with trading partners and critical stakeholders. This can give an organisation priority access to necessary supplies. 

  • Communication – Communicate the response plan and approach with employees, families, customers, suppliers, and partners. Institute pre-written messages for specific scenarios so they can be issued should coronavirus become a direct threat.  

  • Remote-working – Allowing employees to work from home could help ensure continued operation with limited disruption. Consider laptop configurations, networking concerns, and security of home computers. A test run will ascertain if a high percentage of the staff can work remotely without any issues. 

  • Risk and Legal – Before coronavirus impacts the organisation, identify likely threats and develop risk mitigation policies and procedures. Legal consideration needs to be given to policies, such as working remotely, to ensure requirements are fair and reasonable. 

  • HR Policies and Procedures – Employees should know their sick leave rights if infected. It’s also important to consider the legal aspect of these policies to ensure they’re fair and equitable. 

  • Trading Partners – If the virus continues to spread the supply chain will be affected, so demand, distribution, and production plans need reviewing and strategies linked with key trading partners.  

  • Employee Wellness – During this time organisations need to consider the well-being of employees, including reviewing contracts with health plans and determining coverage and provision of services such as vaccinations and access to medical facilities. Employees should know what’s available to them if infected, and where they can seek treatment. 

  • Business Processes – To avoid shutdown during the coronavirus, organisations need policies and processes that enable them to maintain operational effectiveness. If employees are infected, for example, should the organisation use temporary staff?  

The role of technology

Technology has an important role to play in mitigating and significantly reducing the impact that coronavirus is already having on businesses and people’s lives. Organisations around the world can leverage critical event management (CEM) platforms to send millions of coronavirus-related communications to manage the impact of the outbreak on employees, facilities, suppliers and distribution routes.  

The benefit of CEM platforms is that they use a range of resources for tracking coronavirus developments, including health-related incidents and bulletins across multiple locations, airport and travel termini closures, transportation delays, movement restrictions, and manufacturing disruptions. Platforms collate intelligence from thousands of verified data sources reviewed by experienced analysts to create a continually updated stream of validated information. This is integrated into the platform so security, business continuity, emergency management, and supply chain teams can visually see how new developments may impact their business and automate their response and standard operating procedures to help reduce risks.  

To deal with coronavirus, we suggest taking a phased approach: 

  • Phase 1 – Visualise and assess – Aggregate situational intelligence by collecting information from all the relevant data sources and coronavirus intelligence and consolidate it to generate a unified view of the entire incident across all relevant territories. 

  • Phase 2 – Locate – Depending on where they are located employees can be at risk of exposure, particularly since coronavirus is spreading quickly. Businesses can cross-reference the known areas of the virus’ presence with employee travel itineraries or static office assignments and in addition consider anyone with a compromised immune system. Our platform has the ability to dynamically locate people using multiple methods so that any threat to them is based on their needs and actual location.  

  • Phase 3 – Act & Communicate – Once the situation has been assessed and those at risk located, action can be taken to manage and mitigate the emergency. By leveraging an integrated system, response processes can be pre-defined by those in charge via the platform and decisions made about whether communications are restricted just to employees, or also to partners and customers.  Effective communication will keep people safe and avert an escalating crisis. Messages should be short, concise, practical and actionable, and delivered to the maximum number of people by text or phone (voice) giving information about what to do, and asking them to respond to ensure the message has been received. 

  • Phase 4 – Analyse – When the coronavirus incident has been resolved, organisations will need to analyse their response.  This will provide the vital insight necessary to learn from the incident and improve response times and resourcing for future events.


None of us can predict the path that the coronavirus will take, and every day brings new cases and more fatalities. For businesses, having strong visibility on what is happening, regardless of geographical location, and being able to anticipate the potential impact in order to take action and reduce risk is crucial as the full nature of this situation continues to unfold.

[Image: Javier Colado, Head of International at Everbridge]

About Everbridge

Everbridge, Inc. (NASDAQ: EVBG) is a global software company that provides enterprise software applications that automate and accelerate organizations’ operational response to critical events in order to keep people safe and businesses running. During public safety threats such as active shooter situations, terrorist attacks or severe weather conditions, as well as critical business events including IT outages, cyber-attacks or other incidents such as product recalls or supply-chain interruptions, over 4,500 global customers rely on the company’s Critical Event Management Platform to quickly and reliably aggregate and assess threat data, locate people at risk and responders able to assist, automate the execution of pre-defined communications processes through the secure delivery to over 100 different communication devices, and track progress on executing response plans.

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