23 March 2020

Deploying technology to strengthen and streamline stakeholder communications during a pandemic

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Optimation has a ready-made, secure and controlled communication and case management platform to use in the current pandemic situation.

As the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation, private and public organisations are extremely busy shaping a coordinated approach to manage the outbreak and to maintain secure, robust lines of communication with all stakeholders.

The immediate issues of concern are:

  1. Continuing to satisfy the duty of care obligations towards all stakeholders (workforce/students/citizens/other) and ensure their well being
  2. Supporting the organisations’ ongoing operation and critical functions in a highly challenging and fast-evolving situation
  3. Performing step 1 and 2 while minimising (legal) risk and maintaining public confidence

While there are a number of factors that will go into addressing these concerns, key among those are communication (two-way) and dissemination of that information, especially in the necessary scenarios of self-isolation and staff working from home.

Harnessing technology to help NZ citizens and visitors during the pandemic is one way of managing the risk and exercising control in a challenging situation. Communication, alerts and access to the latest information and resources are what’s needed, via safe technology that everyone can use, that’s also secure. Open channels like social media can be useful but are less secure and harder to control.

 

A trusted platform

Optimation have a platform called Structured Communication Platform (SCP) which enables organisations to provide this trusted channel. Using brand-agnostic smartphone devices, organisations with a significant number of stakeholders in the community (staff, volunteers, supporters etc.) can get critical, time-sensitive messages across quickly, securely and reliably.

SCP is a structured and auditable communication platform using a mobile app and a centralised management console. It fundamentally wraps up the utility of email, websites, text and mobile apps into a system that can also support graduated levels of engagement according to need, light case management functionality, targeting of groups and personalisation.  SCP is also secure and built according to an architecture that has been reviewed by DIA. The SCP platform can be plugged into an existing system of record and extend its capabilities, or it can be a standalone tool that delivers on a tightly defined brief.

SCP-based solutions have been tested and deployed in the real world by several public and private organisations in New Zealand, including but not limited to the NZDF and the Department of Corrections.

Stakeholders get a simple, easy-to-use mobile app that brings together communication and notification tools that we use every day. These include calendars, messaging, alerts and immediate links to documentation and support. Organisations get a richly featured browser-based console for managing communication with these stakeholders. SCP provides an organisation’s stakeholders with a single, controlled and secure portal to official information, as well as a push-alerting capability for organisations and for public health officials to notify people using the app of new information or instructions as needed.

SCP has a strong use case for organisations like government agencies, universities and other large-scale employers. It allows people to register so that they can then be case-managed by the organisation driving a specific information programme they manage through the web console. This enables higher level, focused communication for people in self-isolation, or people abroad in high-risk countries.

The SCP platform provides a range of benefits:

  • A ‘digitally native’ channel for official information that can be trusted by all
  • Enables organisations to actively alert users to evolving situations, instead of people constantly checking websites or relying on emails
  • Complementary channel to contact centres - these are going to be stretched to the maximum and probably overwhelmed
  • Two-way communication between individuals and their organisation
  • Tool for quickly and simply case-managing affected cohorts

The app can also be configured to show a curated set of links to existing web sites and 0800 numbers, as well as provide documents that can be read on the phone even when the user is offline.

For example, if a person self-isolates during this pandemic situation, they can register their details through the SCP app. They'll then appear on the console of the organisation they are connected with (as staff, client, volunteer etc), so the organisation could understand who is connected to who, who's in isolation, what their symptoms are, and how they're progressing, how are they holding up and making sure they’re supported.

SCP can also be used to increase compliance on quarantine directives. When any country takes measures like this, communication becomes a crucial factor in successfully managing the population and making sure they’re both aware of and sticking to regulations. The SCP platform is ideal for meeting these challenges because it means that organisations and public health officials can publish official advisories and information to the app and update them as the situation evolves.

In the case of organisations wanting to review and update their business continuity plans (BCP), all users in remote/off-site locations can be sure that they are accessing the latest BCP resources as they are updated to respond to evolving situations. Organisations can also be confident that updated BCP documents have been distributed and received by the correct identified users in their network.

SCP offers three levels of user functionality:

  • Level 1: an information mobile app for everyone -stakeholders get the latest information and access to downloadable resources. On the ‘publishing’ end, organisations use the browser console to send information, capture usage statistics and send alerts and notifications.
  • Level 2: self-registration - if a stakeholder decides they might be high-risk, they can register their details on the app. This means that organisations can communicate with them in a more specific way and provide welfare and support.
  • Level 3: actively case-managed - this level means that each individual stakeholder is receiving targeted attention from government agencies. They can have a two-way chat with a case worker and have appointments scheduled in the calendar. Their welfare is checked regularly and their progress tracked by the organisation with which they are connected.

It was originally created through our work with a Justice Sector High Impact Innovation Team, however, in response to wide interest from other government and private sector organisations in NZ and Australia, Optimation invested in further R&D to generalise the capabilities of this platform.

While the SCP solution is fully cloud architected and delivered, due to the confidential nature of personal details the recommended deployment topology typically puts the confidential information stores and APIs behind the agency’s firewall, ensuring a highly secure deployment method.

SCP has been designed to help and empower stakeholders who are vulnerable and need support. It can be rapidly configured for specific applications and organisations and be updated in real-time as needs are identified or situations change.

This platform has real application potential in the current pandemic situation to allow organisations to rapidly deploy a communications platform that allows them to conduct reliable communication with identified users, provide critical information resources and actively engage with all stakeholders.

Because it provides a higher level of confidence in having the right information at the right time, it's an ideal solution for NZ organisations in terms of managing people, and specifically the coronavirus outbreak.

 

If you'd like to find out more about how Optimation and SCP can help NZ organisations manage the Covid-19 pandemic, and provide enhanced levels of support and communication to New Zealanders and our visitors, we'd love to talk, and we're here to help.