Nobody likes admitting they have a problem – especially when it comes to preparations that we know are necessary. Similar to the conversation around life insurance, it is bleak to talk about. However, it is vitally important to have the right life insurance so that your family can be financially secure if something were to happen to you. To continue the analogy – is self-insurance the best possible option?
The Build-A-Report Method
I have had the opportunity to speak with many incident management personnel who have been given a home-grown program as the means to manage emergencies at their facilities. This presents a number of risks. To start, there is a gap between the program developer and its end user. This gap allows for the requirements of success of the end user to not be met. Quite often the developers are told, “we need you to get a program written to get mustering taken care of using our Access Control system.” That is all the information they have to complete their mission. How likely is it that when the developers are done, incident commanders are fully equipped to successfully complete theirs?
Another fatal flaw we have repeatedly seen is in the maintenance of the program. After being prepared to be executed for hundreds or thousands of days, a program sometimes fails when needed most. You would think regular use will decrease the likelihood of such a failure at a critical time, but we have repeatedly seen programs 1, 3, 5, and even 10 years old suddenly fail. When this happens, if you’re fortunate enough, the original developers are still with the company and can work to fix this code. Other times, you have to start from scratch.
If your company is focused enough on safety, oftentimes building an effective accountability system from scratch is biting off a bit more than they plan to chew. Sinking costs into a system that was supposed to save money but ultimately ends up costing much more than planned, is a common theme among those who go down the ‘it just needs to be good enough’ route.
When it comes to accountability, every second matters during an incident. If a program is half as effective as it could be, the risk is double for every person in the hazard zone. The goal of every emergency management platform should be to deliver actionable information about who might be in the most danger as fast and easily as possible. In our experience, if you’re going with the build-a-report method, you’re very lucky if you get to that halfway mark.
A Better Solution
Having a system that allows mustering to be a quick process that is visible to the Incident Commander in real-time is a must for any highly hazardous facility. Emergencies happen without warning. It would be great if we were all given a 24-hour preparation time to ensure everything was in order before tragedy strikes, but that is unfortunately not the case in real life. So, is there a solution that ensures you are truly always prepared?
A dedicated service specializing in mustering and accountability solves most of these problems. If you are dealing with a solution provider that is upfront about the costs, there is usually a way to plan for the investment or include it in your operating expenses. This minimizes the chances of having to invest much more than initially planned because a company that specializes in accountability will have prior knowledge of where hidden costs may be in a project and can help you plan for them so that the project can be successfully completed.
At inFRONT, our experience is that customers often will try to solve the problem themselves first, because they believe they can trust their own team. We know the pitfalls of this method, but in most cases, we have to simply support the customer and be there for them when they run into a roadblock they cannot overcome. Whether it is a broken system, one that is user-unfriendly to the point of being unusable, or one that is ‘good enough’ until the incident onsite proves otherwise; we are there to help when it becomes clear they need something better.
What is the difference in substance between what you built on top of your access control system and the AllClear platform from inFRONT? I believe that the short answer is almost always: the difference between data and Actionable Data. If you think you have all the data you might need, but aren’t sure if it’s actionable – Give us a call or shoot me an email, and we will be happy to discuss that with you!