HipLink Blog

How Poor Solution Extensibility Prevents an Effective Emergency Response


All too often, businesses approach emergency response, disaster recovery, and business continuity planning in the context of the “worst-case scenario,” which usually takes the form of some natural disaster that destroys an entire facility. Although it’s a worthwhile exercise to prepare for such a scenario, that preparation may not apply to less-destructive emergency situations.

Consider the following:

  • A faulty smoke detector triggers the fire suppression system in your data center, damaging or destroying 80% of your critical servers and network infrastructure devices.

  • A successful ransomware attack shuts down all of your endpoint devices, including all point-of-sale terminals.

  • A critical data storage server crashes, and you then discover that your data backups have been failing for weeks, unbeknownst to anyone.

  • The FBI raids your corporate headquarters, and your CEO is shown on TV being led away in handcuffs.


All of these situations demand a response that has nothing to do with setting up shop in an alternate location. Planning for the “worst case” doesn’t help you because few or none of the recovery steps for the worst case are applicable. Many of those steps might, in fact, be counterproductive. Your emergency planning needs to cover these “bad but not worst case” scenarios as well.


One important step should be the same no matter what emergency situation you find yourself in: communication.


Every emergency, regardless of its impact, scale, or scope, demands quick communication. The audiences and messaging might vary from one emergency to the next, but it’s critical that the right information gets to the right people as rapidly as possible.


Here’s the bad news: Most organizations are not prepared for rapid, targeted communication in times of crisis. This article explains the two major reasons and what you can do about it.

Problem #1: Planning

Many organizations have put no thought into establishing rules regarding what messages to communicate, to whom, and when as part of their emergency response planning. Consider all the potential audiences:

  • Employees

  • Senior company leadership

  • Customers

  • Suppliers

  • Shareholders

  • First responders

  • Government agencies

  • Insurance carriers

  • News media

  • Residents in the community


Not all of these groups need to receive communications for every emergency, and of those that do, not all of them need it right away. And because each group has its own unique needs in a crisis situation, not all of them should receive the same message.


How do you decide? You need well-defined, published rules that account for most, if not all, foreseeable crisis situations. The rules should be simple enough to be represented in an easy-to-follow flowchart.

Problem #2: Infrastructure

In most emergency situations, the groups that need to receive communications first are employees and management at the affected site (or all sites, in the case of a companywide crisis).


In many organizations, the infrastructure for getting these communications out comprises a patchwork of legacy systems. For large companies that grow by acquiring smaller businesses, there may be dozens of different systems in place for employee crisis communications. Some systems are limited to a single channel, such as recorded voice messages sent by phone. Others might rely on a “phone tree” of people manually calling others, who then call still others, thereby cascading the message across the organization.


And some business units may have no system at all and are vulnerable to being left out of any communications.


When you have multiple communications systems that integrate poorly (or at all), rely on single-channel communications, or depend on the availability of specific people to get the message out, you are going to have issues, such as:

  • Individuals or groups left out of the loop

  • Communication delays

  • Messages that are changing as they traverse the communications chain (like the children’s game of “telephone”)

  • The spotty ability for recipients to acknowledge receipt of the message

  • Limited or nonexistent ability to view real-time (or any) reports


Legacy crisis communication systems also tend not to scale well as the company or business unit grows. Coordination among different systems often requires human intervention, which can result in further communication gaps, delays, and messaging errors. 


And any system that is hosted in an on-premise data center is vulnerable to the very types of emergencies that it was intended to mitigate.

A Better Way: HipLink

Organizations that suffer from one or both of the major problems described in this article need to have an extensible solution in place before the next crisis hits.


HipLink is just such a solution. HipLink enables you to define communication rules and recipient groups for different emergency situations, which takes the guesswork out of deciding what to communicate and to whom. HipLink also supports flexible organization and delegation functions to facilitate the distribution of administration and user hierarchy functions.


HipLink can communicate with any data- or voice-enabled wireless device across multiple channels, including voice delivery, interactive voice response (IVR), simple message system (SMS) text messages, and more.


In addition, HipLink offers advanced features that include:

  • Built-in failover functionality at both the carrier and receiver levels that assures message delivery even if the primary delivery method should fail.

  • Two-way messaging that empowers recipients to confirm messages, send instructions, or request additional resources. The status of message delivery to the carrier and to the receiver are recorded for reporting.

  • Customizable reports that are generated in real-time with detailed statistics and message status. 

  • Easy deployment and integration with hundreds of software applications, including dispatch, network tools, and help desk applications, both on-premise and cloud-based.

  • An intuitive web-based interface that enables system administration, message execution, and report generation any time, anywhere, on any internet-connected device. Employees can enter their contact information (including email, multiple phone numbers, and more) to facilitate accurate and rapid delivery via multiple simultaneous channels.


In times of crisis, your communication tool should be reliable and robust—it should never be the reason a message doesn’t get through. HipLink is an essential solution for rapid, automatic communication with key stakeholder groups.  To learn more about HipLink, try it for free, or request a demo, contact HipLink today.

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