2017 has started with a combination of severe weather issues and virus outbreaks that left the UK battling with “The three F’s”:
As health chiefs warn people to stay indoors to avoid the ‘double flu’ and ‘toxic fog’ and thousands of families evacuating their homes due to extreme flooding, the UK reached crisis mode. Let’s look at how critical communications can help to reduce the impact of these events.
Another fatal flu virus hits the UK
On January 19th 13,000 people sought advice from their GP and 192 people were hospitalised with suspected ‘double flu’. Cases of the A H3 influenza strain soared – a potent type of virus that can be fatal for vulnerable people. The failure to implement an adequate flu vaccination programme has led to the highest increase in flu-related deaths for twelve years. An increase of 28,189 deaths in 2015 took annual figures past the 500,000 mark.
The tragic increase could be reduced by implementing a critical communications platform. This would enable hospitals and first response teams to communicate with on-call staff and deploy medical resources to treat patients and quarantine the virus. Users could also harness the platform’s geo-location data to assess the most affected areas to target medical advice and prioritise patients with the most critical needs.
Fog causes chaos at UK airports and across the road network
On 5th December 2016, toxic fog engulfed London with asthmatic commuters warned to stay indoors. A few weeks later freezing fog gripped the South of England causing multi-car road traffic accidents and forcing Gatwick and Heathrow airport to cancel more than 100 flights.
Hysteria spread as the UK media referred to the toxic fog as ‘killer pollution’. Weather can be unpredictable; however, it is the government’s responsibility to prepare for unforeseen circumstances. A critical communications system can be used to communicate with citizens and employees during severe weather. For example, best practices for driving in fog could be sent en masse to regular motorway commuters or businesses could advise employees to work from home.
Floods cause major evacuations of large residential areas
As Europe’s Atlantic-facing countries are warned of heavier rainfalls, greater flood risk and severe storm damage, 2017 saw yet more families evacuate their homes due to flood damage. Following the UK’s winter 2015-2016 flood crisis, local councils have a responsibility to ensure it does not happen again. IoT offers new opportunities to manage flooding. A government operated dam could have sensors placed inside the walls to automatically alert engineers and local authorities if water levels rise too high, tailoring the communications based on severity level and the roles and responsibilities of appropriate workers. Messages could be sent in real time, before disaster strikes, to advise on evacuation – giving residents the opportunity to pack valuables.
Government and businesses invest heavily in mitigating risk. However, not all crises can be avoided –let alone pre-empted. With advanced critical communications technology available, overlooking duty of care is not an excuse.