How governments can keep employees safe as they return to work
People of all walks of life are worried about public acts of violence with the recent string of mass shootings that have been taking place since the start of the year. This, coupled with anxiety of returning to work after the pandemic, means that those in charge of government property must make safety a top priority both for public employees and the residents who use these spaces.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. In addition to the challenges inherent in protecting public spaces, local and county agencies often have scarce resources at their disposal to dedicate to employee safety as a result of budget shortfalls created by the pandemic.
However, there are cost-effective, easy-to-use, and scalable technology-based solutions availablethat empower public officials to keep government workers safe. These solutions enable emergency response teams to quickly address crisis situations as they unfold and improve real-time decision-making. The right tools also allow government employees to support emergency response efforts and preparedness.
Below are four ways that local municipalities can leverage technology to bolster safety on government property, ensure emergency preparedness and give everyone confidence that they can return to public spaces safely this year.
Deploy simple tools for reporting safety concerns
Emergency responders are rarely near random acts of violence when they occur. As a result, having the right tools and technologies in place in any workplace is critical—but even more so in government buildings, where visitors are often present.
Government leaders need to invest in incident/safety reporting tools that the public and employees find easy to use. Those working on or visiting government property should be able to quickly inform security teams of suspicious behaviors, concerns or violent acts in progress so they can initiate prompt and appropriate response. Reporting tools should also be accessible and adhere to local protocols at every level.
Another requirement for emergency reporting tools is that they work from anywhere, especially with many government officials and employees either working at various facilities or from home. Wherever their place of work, employees or visitors should have a way to report tips confidentially or even anonymously. Text messaging tip lines or workplace safety apps are viable options for opening doors of communication while keeping people out of harm’s way.
Update communication protocols regularly
In addition to deploying reporting tools, public officials need to ensure communication protocols, databases and infrastructure are well-maintained. Local leaders can’t afford for emergency response systems to go down in the event of a crisis on government property.
Systems that support emergency-related communication must be performant, reliable and scalable in the most urgent of emergencies. Government agencies should be able to send mulit-modal alerts en masse via text, phone, email and other forms without any messages being lost or getting delayed in transit to those who might be affected by an emergency.
Communication channels should also be two-way whenever possible so that government response teams and employees can share information back and forth. Not only does this allow employees to share valuable context about what is happening before response units arrive, but they can also gain access to emergency plans and directions quickly should they need them.
Likewise, visitors spending time on government property should be able to simply opt-in to receiving alerts, should they so choose. By using SMS opt-in, visitors can simply text a number to subscribe to alerts for a short period of time, allowing them to receive critical information should an emergency strike.
Establish an incident collaboration system
Emergencies, by nature, are chaotic, stressful, and require a high level of coordination and collaboration across all stakeholders. Local government agencies can minimize anxiety in emergency situations by establishing a central incident collaboration system that allows for a coordinated and well-informed response. Should an emergency occur on government property, such as a state house, court or town hall, an incident collaboration system can bring together all those involved in an emergency response: state and local police, fire, EMTs, private security and more. An incident collaboration system can automatically assign tasks, ensure protocols are followed and keep different departments informed and on the same page. The goal is to create a swifter response and restore safety to the area sooner.
Leverage technology to protect public spaces
As government-owned spaces reopen, local officials must invest today to safeguard their employees and communities tomorrow. Technology-based platforms offer one of the best paths for implementing cost-effective protocols and processes that leaders can trust in emergency situations.
When emergencies strike, clarity and order are vital. As people begin to congregate again—and as town halls, libraries and other local and state offices begin to welcome back residents and employees—government officials need to be prepared. The right tools will allow those in charge of government properties to better communicate with and protect employees and the public, getting everyone a step closer to a safe return to normal.
Todd Miller is the senior vice president of Rave Mobile Safety.