Situational awareness: Real-time decision making to improve business operations

Although the term situational awareness usually pertains to the military and first responder space, it also plays a crucial role in the efficiency of public and private organizations such as large-scale businesses, government agencies, transportation and logistics, and many other industries.

For business leaders, situational awareness has come to mean having real-time visibility into operations in order to understand and control the business on a day-to-day basis. This allows entire teams to understand how their actions and decisions can impact the present and future well-being of an organization. Whether in a combat zone or place of business, immediate decisions and actions can critically impact the outcome of any situation.

When given actionable intelligence from situational awareness technology, business leaders and employees make quicker, more informed decisions that move a business forward.

There is often no shortage of data, but the need to position the most critical data in front of the individuals who can make the biggest impact is a major pain point across industries. Imagine before you made any business decision, you were aware of all the data points that influence that decision versus waiting weeks for the information to filter through your organization – this would be a true game-changer.

Fortunately, most organizations and operations already have the data and infrastructure they need to achieve situational awareness. What they lack is the time, manpower or technology to tie all the data together (both historical and real-time), sift through the data to find what is needed, and deliver the actionable intelligence to their employees as they make critical decisions. Situational awareness platforms are built to do just that.

These platforms serve as an intelligence layer that sits on top of existing technology to integrate systems, pinpoint the data that is needed, contextualize the data for different users, and then make this data accessible on-demand and in real-time as decisions are being made. These platforms deliver a common operational picture for leaders at headquarters all the way to workers at the edge of operations.

The concept of situational awareness is deeply rooted in the military, where it has long been linked to effective decision making in the tactical environment. Like soldiers on the battlefield, most frontline or edge workers are forced to make the best possible decision with the least amount of data. What’s more, the decisions made by workers at the edge can have dramatic impacts on a business. Fortunately, like the military, businesses utilizing situational awareness technology arm decision-makers with the information they need to make critical decisions that can save lives or accelerate a business.

The application of situational awareness technology in the private sector is a relatively new concept. However, the positive results are clear. Whether it be in a crisis situation or in delivering world-class customer service, when personnel on the front lines use situational awareness platforms, they receive the right information at the right time, which improves decision-making and productivity while reducing resources.

Similarly, when teams share a common operational picture delivered by such a platform, personnel at the edge of operations are empowered to make quicker decisions, while leaders feel a greater sense of control over operations. When used strategically, situational awareness platforms aggregate data, workflows, and communications to provide business teams with the real-time insight needed for immediate, informed action.

Situational awareness technology is now available to most industries from public safety to transportation. Here are four cases that demonstrate the power of situational awareness technology to profoundly impact business operations across varied environments.

Stadium and venue security: Security crews utilize numerous sensors and disparate systems to safeguard massive crowds. By integrating sensor data, systems and users into a common operational picture, staff can instantly identify potential threats and take immediate and preventative action, whether through dispatching the closest security officer, locking doors, or activating lights and alarms.

Campus safety: A school campus is one of the most challenging environments to keep safe. In response, campuses continue to add new security assets to their operations. Most of these assets supply a single-function such as locking doors, alerting students or capturing video footage. Unless these assets are connected, operations must navigate multiple screens, logins and user interfaces. This slows response time and hampers proactive efforts. Situational awareness platforms are built to connect these systems, deliver the exact data each security team member needs, and ensure immediate and strategic action is taken.

Utility service providers: Electric, gas and other utility providers are expected to quickly and safely restore service following major storms and outages. This service restoration is a complex operation involving multiple stakeholders, disparate locations and adverse environmental conditions. Situational awareness technology integrates all systems and infrastructure such as cameras, weather forecast-feeds, and real-time user inputs to create a common operational picture. This allows operations to quickly, confidently, and efficiently deploy crews, provide accurate ETRs, and assure crew safety.

Transportation and logistics: Similarly, transportation and logistics companies depend on consistent and reliable deliveries to customers. Lack of operational visibility into driver schedules, truck maintenance, inventory availability, traffic situations and compliance reporting make it challenging to ensure all deliveries are on time and in full. Any breakdown can halt revenue and negatively impact customer satisfaction. With situational awareness technology, dispatchers can eliminate outdated manual processes, notify customers of pending deliveries, re-route drivers, and better control costs in the last mile.

In summary, true situational awareness doesn’t occur until every end user is provided with the insight and actionable intelligence they need. All industries want to empower workers to make quicker, more informed decisions while ensuring efficient and connected operations.

In the military, soldiers are given the critical information they need to operate as an effective unit. How can businesses do the same? They already have the data and systems necessary. All they need is a platform to leverage these assets and enable effective action.

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