2020 Emergency Facilities Strategies: Why Planning for the Unknown Is Critical to Remain Proactive

Emergency facilities strategies help your organization plan for the unknown and minimize business disruptions. As explained by Buildings.com:

“There’s no way to be 100% prepared for an emergency; keeping your organization’s emergency management and communication plans up to date will get you as close as possible. You probably have some emergency procedures in place already, but it won’t do any good if they’re in a dusty manual sitting in a drawer. The most effective plans are regularly practiced until everyone is familiar with procedures and updated often to reflect changes in building use, campus layout, technology innovations, or perceived threats.”

To keep emergency risk in check, Facilities Managers need to know why risks continue to increase, how strong emergency facilities strategies promote business continuity, and a few tips for deploying such strategies successfully.

Risks to Facilities Continue to Increase and Drive Demand for Emergency Preparedness

The risks to facilities continue to climb in both frequency and severity. As reported by Dan Hounsell via FacilitiesNet:

“Facilities are under siege more than ever. Climate change has turned up the intensity of weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires. Mass shootings are a growing threat, especially in K-12 schools. Illnesses such as Legionnaire’s disease silently threaten occupant health. As if those issues aren’t enough, cyber-attacks are targeting vital systems and technology that managers and their departments rely on daily.

These problems are far beyond the scale of too-hot and too-cold calls and roof leaks, and for managers responsible for the safety, security, and reliability of facilities, they present a true test of their ability to think, plan and act long-term. In short, they require that managers consider the resilience of their facilities and organizations.”

Virtually any event or activity could lead to disruption, and instead of hoping for the best, Facilities Managers need viable solutions that can be activated within a moment’s notice. 

Emergency Facilities Strategies Enable Business Continuity

Emergency facilities strategies promote business continuity through resilience. Resilience describes the ability to plan for, address, and recover from a crisis as fast as possible. With vast uncertainty regarding risks to facilities management, including the possibility of limited supplies and equipment from manufacturers and supply chains in China, the pressure has never been higher. Facilities Managers must base their emergency strategies on accessible, realistic goals, not aspirations. 

For instance, effective emergency facilities strategies must be accessible from anywhere, requiring centralized, mobile controls and dashboarding tools. They must contain data to track facility status and performance when disaster strikes. This remote management is essential to the survival of facilities during adverse weather, catastrophes, cyber-attacks, and other emergencies. Furthermore, automation of facility controls, such as the intuitive deactivation of the HVAC system, can reduce humidity buildup and prevent the spread of pathogens and mold following a hurricane or flood. 

There will be times when emergencies require evacuation, and while evacuation may technically fall to the shoulders of available, on-site staff, Facilities Managers have a duty to create, post, and train staff on how to evacuate, which pathways are more effective, how to avoid sealed areas when fires occur, and more. The list of responsibilities and best practices for the organization’s building occupants will always derive from the facilities management team.

Take another form of emergency—an active shooter situation. Better technology and communications tools can automatically alert building occupants and help everyone know what’s happening, explains Greg Zimmerman via FacilitiesNet. This is a function widely used across education campuses to reduce the loss of life and initiate lockdown procedures. Without integration between systems and centralized controls, its value would be meaningless. 

How to Deploy the Right Emergency Facilities Strategies Successfully

Facilities Managers should also follow these tips to deploy the right emergency facilities strategies and plan for the unexpected. 

  • Define roles for the formation and execution of your emergency facilities response plan.
  • Know the costs and available resources. 
  • Monitor conditions for change. 
  • Create a world-class communications plan. 
  • Practice deployment of your strategy when possible. 
  • Keep your policy flexible.
  • Take advantage of third-party expertise in building and executing emergency facilities strategies. 

Implement the Best Strategies With an Advanced Facilities Management Provider

The world is continuously changing and evolving in tandem with society’s blending of the digital twin to everything. The digital twin is the virtual construct that brings digitalization to any operation. Even a person’s smartphone might be considered a digital twin, and with digital everything available, it makes sense that emergency facilities strategies need to leverage the digital twins of the world to make more informed proactive decisions. More importantly, the right emergency strategies will promote your brand and showcase your willingness to take the steps necessary to safeguard lives, as well as your products and workforce. 

Eric Crabb

Eric Crabb