There are things that we hope we never need to use. Think of fire insurance, lifeboats, emergency flashlights or a first aid kit. They’re “just in case” backups for when things go wrong but we depend on them to work exactly as we need them to on the rare occasion we have to call them into action. Because sometime, somewhere things will go wrong. Not to get too dramatic about it, but there are times when lives are literally on the line and “good enough” turns out to be not good enough.
Planning for these emergency scenarios is part of proper facility management and workplace protocols. Those plans may vary according to the number of people potentially involved in an evacuation and the size and complexity of the work space in question but tools and strategies need to be in place and ready to go when accidents, threats or other circumstances demand quick action. When worker, patient or visitor safety is a stake, the efficiency of the action plan you hope you’ll never have to use can make all the difference.
Evacuation coordination is something that workplaces already plan for. After all, it’s more than just common sense and good practice—building codes demand that routes be clearly marked. Fire escapes and extinguishers have their own signage and alarms are easily accessible. Design considerations for emergency evacuations from office buildings, industrial facilities, healthcare facilities and more are made before the doors even open for the first time.
This is all as it should be, of course, but there’s another aspect to emergency management that’s can’t be physically built into a facility. Even when paths to safety are marked and the layout of the building allows for easy and orderly evacuation, there’s still the issue of being able to tell how many people might be left in the building and where they are. This has particular relevance for larger work spaces with complex floor plans, like many offices and factories, and contexts that involve limited-mobility residents, like healthcare facilities.
When every passing second matters and the number of people involved makes a simple visual headcount impossible, other options are needed to ensure that facility evacuation or gathering at a safe point (“mustering”) has included everyone. The adrenaline of emergency scenarios only adds to the difficulty of ensuring a careful and thorough accounting of staff or building occupants and it may happen that there’s no time for it anyway.
The challenge of accounting for everyone is met by modern IoT solutions. Visibility into the location of everyone in a facility can be achieved with simple applications that are easy to access and manage. At the touch of a button, digital representations of entire groups can be assessed for missing members and their whereabouts clearly shown. Anyone left behind can be helped to safety or emergency services can be quickly informed of their status.
IoT enables smooth emergency evacuation coordination and mustering while supplying real-time visibility of the location of everyone in a facility. The presence or absence of individuals can be determined immediately and their location established.
There’s also another related and very useful benefit to IoT solutions that can be used in a number of situations, including emergency evacuations. The form factor of wearable IoT sensors allows for the use of a panic button that can be activated to draw attention to anyone in need of help. This alert can be sent at any time to provide an added sense of security for users and a failsafe method of locating them when evacuation of a premises is necessary.
Such solutions bring enormous benefits. Your employees know that in the case of an emergency, you’ve got them covered, which builds the feeling of safety and trust. Same goes for the actual emergency. When you’re stuck in a building, knowing that the rescue team knows where you are and is on their way, definitely helps overcome panic. Similarly, the evacuation managing team can work more efficiently when they know how many people have reached the muster point and where to find those who have not. It goes without saying that when every person and minute count, having such visibility can be life-saving.
If you're looking for a people visibility solution for smart mustering and evacuation or other workplace safety-related use cases, check out Simon AI, our end-to-end location and sensor analytics for operational environments. Schedule a demo today and find out how easily it can digitize your operations!