While much of the conversation is dominated by heightened technology security risks as organisations transform their environments to adopt Cloud solutions, there are other areas in which organisations face equally critical risks, such as alarm technology and alerting. Here, too, organisations across a wide range of sectors need to adapt to a changing environment in order to ensure best practice and legal compliance.
According to a recent study, the global alarm monitoring market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.07 per cent through to 2024.1 The specifics behind the expected increase vary by sector, but the ultimate reason remains the same – the desire to mitigate risk by having faster response times, fewer errors, and more robust threat monitoring. As one report noted in arguing for the need to improve alarming technology in health care: “Poorly optimised, clinical alarm activity can affect patient safety and may have a negative impact on care providers, leading to an inappropriate alarm response time due to the so-called alarm fatigue (AF). Ultimately, consequences of AF include missed alerts of clinical significance, with substantial risk for patient harm and potentially fatal outcomes.”2
Another area brought into sharp focus in Australia this year is fire, as bushfires across the country rage out of control. Australia has strict compliance requirements around fire safety and evacuations, and in the event of an incident, businesses need to demonstrate compliance. Part of being compliant includes an up-to-date and progressive messaging system.
At the heart of modern alerting systems are unified communications (UC) platforms, which combine presence and focus on reachability. An alerting system will instantly fail as a risk mitigation strategy if the alerts are being directed to the wrong place, or aren’t being monitored. Ensuring the entire organisation’s IT environment is structured to direct alerts to where they are needed is the first step to modernising an alerting system.
“Using unified communications and IP telephony technologies, we expect to lower our operating costs, and increase the overall efficiency of the Trust,” Mark England, director of IM&T Luton & Dunstable Hospital NHS said while explaining why the organisation adopted Unify’s OpenScape Alarm Response Professional V4 (OScAR) solution. “Ultimately, this means we can deliver a superior service to our patients, which remains the overriding objective for all the Trust’s investments.”
The success of alerting systems moving into 2020 and beyond will be in understanding the changing ways in which organisations are communicating. Voice and email are being replaced by more immediate technologies, messaging and video, and those solutions are being wrapped up in automation and AI. As an Aragon Research report states:
“Voice and email communications are still the primary modes of interaction within the enterprise today, but messaging is closing in on email. Enterprises, however, are still in the process of establishing an enterprise standard.”3
Asking the right questions
Structuring a solution around effective monitoring and alerting requires an organisation to ask these questions:
- What is our appropriate alerting?
- How quick do we need to react?
- Who is able to help?
- Who needs to be informed?
- How time-critical is the alerting?
- How do we know the right people received the alerting instructions?
- Which alerting procedures can be safely automated?
- What kind of risks can arise?
- Are there any legal requirements to follow?
- Who logs all of these activities?
- Who is ultimately responsible for the automated alarm plan – and how is this managed from an IT perspective?
Organisations need to be able to answer all of these questions in determining whether they have an adequate emergency response plan. However, the specifics of those answers can vary substantially between sectors.
For financial services, this might result in a combination of red button alarm/silent alerting for the tellers, through to camera monitoring. Food production and logistics might need a monitoring solution to detect and evacuate early in the event of pollutant leakages or fires. Airports might require a combination of monitoring and tracking of service teams, co-ordination across tarmac and building, and the integration of both security and disaster response systems.
Most environments face multiple potential alarm scenarios, and resolving them is a matter of consistency and cohesiveness – which means making sure they can all be fed into a single system with reliable crisis workflow.
OScAR has been structured to provide a critical gateway and feed across all alarm scenarios, with monitoring and automated alarming procedures delivered to the right people who can subsequently confirm the management of risk, without an interruption to the flow of critical information.
Due to the strength of this solution, Unify has been placed in the Aragon Research “Leader” quadrant for its ability to help organisations deal with the escalating technology risks around emergency and disaster response and alerting. Risk mitigation is a matter of being able to operate in real time, and feed the messaging to the right people, as efficiently as possible. In other areas of technology-based risk mitigation, there are substantial fines for non-compliance. With time critical communication events, lives might be at stake, and that’s why it’s so important organisations get it right.
For more information on implementing systems with real-time communication workflow processes – essential in the event of an emergency, contact the experts on OpenScape Alarm Response, Atos Australia.
3 Report (supplied by client)