Coronavirus covid-19

How Universities are Managing Coronavirus-Related Critical Incidents

As the coronavirus or Covid-19 cases begin to accelerate into Australia, Western Europe and the United States, universities are closely examining their business continuity policies and procedures in order to ensure they’re prepared. When university officials meet, they’re asking difficult questions about the 5.3M students studying abroad:

  • Do we know who and how many of our students and staff are studying abroad or conducting research in China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and other adversely impacted countries?
  • For those students/staff abroad, do we know their current specific location so we can assess their risk level and provide context-specific messages/directions? If universities in a certain city or country postpones classes / closes the institution, as recently announced for Italy and the UAE, can we proactively relay this message to impacted students?
  • Can we communicate with students/staff directly via multiple modes of communication in order to help ensure they receive important messages/direction?
  • If we need to quarantine students who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, as occurred at the University of Sydney, how will we communicate with impacted students we need to relocate?
  • For those in quarantine, can we help ensure they adhere to the quarantine, and also provide them an easy way to contact us if they need medical care or other assistance?

Heriot-Watt University, University of York, Texas A&M-San Antonio, University of Queensland and Dublin City University are among the many higher education institutions that can answer “YES” to all of the questions above, thanks in part to their use of SafeZone.

SafeZone is associated with transforming an organization’s ability to manage personal safety, security and critical incidents but a common misperception is that it takes many months to implement SafeZone. Actually, it can be implemented in under a week and provide an organization with material gains in their ability to identify and communicate with those abroad and on campus, and with coordinating their resources to more efficiently respond to various incidents. This means a university concerned with shortfalls in their ability to meet their duty of care, particularly when exacerbated by Covid-19, can realize significant improvements in their ability to protect students and staff with minimal investment, relative to the risk associated with failure to perform.

Alison Levey from Aston University addresses SafeZone Conference

How Universities are Using SafeZone to Help Manage Critical Incidents Related to Coronavirus

Self-Isolating Staff and Students

For students or staff self-isolating as a precautionary measure to curb further infection, you can set up one or more hidden Covid-19 SafeZone regions (visible only to those in the group) and ask them to check-in and share their location real-time. This will provide your organization with situational awareness (particular relevant to those staff/students overseas, and with international campuses). As a result of having them part of the User Group, you can also send targeted communications to them.

Remote Workers, Researchers and Placement Students

For students studying abroad, as well as staff overseas, offer them the ability to check-in to a specific group via SafeZone. This will give your institution the ability to visualize who may be impacted if an outbreak is announced in a specific country / region or city. 

Vulnerable Community

Health authorities have identified specific groups of the population that are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus i.e. those with respiratory conditions, those over 65 etc. CriticalArc is helping our customers add users to PEEP/Medical Care Plan User Groups so the more vulnerable users can receive additional support if required. The CriticalArc Customer Success Team can help your organization identify this community so you can be sure to protect these individuals.

First Aiders / Medical Groups

Most organizations lack the ability to selectively and efficiently communicate with their first aiders or medical staff. When higher education institutions consider the need to respond to those afflicted with the Coronavirus, it’s clear this is an essential capability. Custom-configuration of SafeZone will provide your organization with this capability in a matter of minutes. If the current situation deteriorates and you need access to a wider range of stakeholders, you can use SafeZone Command to quickly visualize all of your resources, communicate with them and respond with the full safety and security team.

Screenshot of SafeZone depicting the ability to set up groups by function i.e. fire wardens, first aiders etc.

Mass Communications

To enable organizations to send real-time updates and advice to their staff and students, we’ve assisted several customers with configuring templated, mass communication messages, specific to the Coronavirus. For optimal results, universities need to verify their staff and student data is current and correct, and then use SafeZone to deliver the relevant messages as needed alongside the Universities Social Media Channels. CriticalArc also provides assistance to our customers with using Single-Sign-On or our API to facilitate onboarding/offboarding so communications are only sent to current staff and students.


If the current situation with Coronavirus worsens, you may wish to consider establishing your Crisis Management teams (Gold, Silver and Bronze) as User Groups within SafeZone Command for real time visualization and targeted communications to this specific group. This may include access to OmniGuard Mobile and or Command (Web). With SafeZone, this is easily supported so your team is well prepared.

Is Your University Fully Prepared for Coronavirus?

It’s clear that over the coming months the Coronavirus will raise significant challenges for higher education institutions as it spreads across the world in varying degrees. It’s not a question of if, but when your organization will need the functionality outlined herein.  If you’d like to learn how SafeZone can help your organization deliver these capabilities, please request a demo.

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