Snow doesn’t need to cause an avalanche of disruption: the humble text can make a difference

Topic: Esendex news

As the UK battens down its hatches for an onslaught of bad weather; businesses, schools, hospitals, rail operators and airports are braced for disruption. Our last harsh winter in 2010/11 was said to cost the British economy £1.2 billion per day in lost business and inefficiencies – no one wants to see a repeat of that. (Sky News)
Then there’s the safety risks associated with bad weather. The December of two years ago saw thousands of drivers stranded around the country, taking refuge in schools, churches and their cars. In one day, the RAC and AA received 14,000 and 25,000 call-outs respectively, two of its busiest days ever. The weather claimed the lives of more than ten people in one week.
Hundreds of schools shut, all major airports closed temporarily and haulage firms struggled to keep goods moving around the country. It was a similar story the previous year. But what can be done about it?
Of course, we can’t change the weather and some of the effects of sudden snow are unavoidable, but it’s fair to say, much to the amusement of other more winter-ready countries, that we never seem prepared for it.
The answer to some of these problems lies in the humble text message.
When schools, public services providers and businesses use SMS, they are instantly able to notify customers and employees and provide advice that minimises disruption and saves lives. This is far more effective than trying to make hundreds of phone calls at short notice, or asking people to tune in to local radio for updates. Plus messages can be sent from anywhere with an internet connection – which is invaluable if the premises in question are closed.
A handful of organisations are doing it, but sadly using SMS communications in response to inclement weather or emergency situations is currently the exception rather than the norm.
One of our customers is a good example of how it can help, however. Aberdeen International Airport uses SMS to keep its staff informed with updates that result from changes in weather conditions. From baggage handlers to cabin crew, everyone is kept up to date with information ranging from travel to work to icy runway closures that ground flights, helping to make provisions and minimise airport disruption.
Not only is it something that would be useful for other transport providers to adopt, but all types of organisations. It fulfils duty of care obligations and also helps to get Britain back to work or school when the weather subsides. Unlike social media tools or email, SMS is ubiquitous – almost everyone owns a mobile phone and they all have texting capabilities. Plus you know when a message has been read.
Severe weather warnings don’t have to mean severe disruption: we just need simple solutions to keep communicating, and SMS may just be the answer.

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Julian