Everbridge, a provider of critical event management (CEM), announced its mass notification system will be used to help keep Washington, D.C. area residents and visitors safe and informed in the days leading up to and during the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2021. 

The United States Park Police (USPP), one of the oldest uniformed federal law enforcement agencies in the country, and the District of Columbia government, will once again partner to use the Everbridge platform to provide subscribers with safety, weather, traffic, event and emergency alerts, at a time when the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak poses new challenges for organizers and attendees.

This marks the second presidential inauguration in which D.C.-area public safety agencies utilized Everbridge to help protect residents and attendees and ensure a smooth day of activities. In 2017, USPP and D.C. Homeland Security teamed up with Everbridge throughout Inauguration week.

SDM sat down with Brian Toolan, Everbridge’s director of government strategy, to discuss how the critical event management software is being implemented for the 2021 inauguration.

SDM: What are some of the security risks associated with the inauguration?

Brian Toolan: There's a lot of physical security risks to start, right. And then there's personal security risk from the perspective Everbridge brings to that table. We're a critical event management platform. So we help our customers engage in citizen communication, employee communication, and then the ability to understand from a higher level, that global picture of what's going on. We're not going to partake in actual physical security of a building, but we'll provide things such as the ability to communicate with people who are on that team, help them categorize their strategic planning for those events, as well as push out situational reports to people to understand what's going on. And of course, then you have to change the plans so that if last minute something here happened, we have to take action. We're going to provide that critical communication base. Our platform delivered 5 billion notifications in 2020. We're pushing out powerful messages in a very quick period of time, so you want to be assured. Time can be very sensitive; time is of the essence to get messages out. So that's what we do every day — we push out those messages very quickly.

SDM: What is Everbridge doing to prepare for the inauguration? How is Everbridge providing these critical event services to help make sure that the inauguration stays safe?

BT: We just recently announced Washington, D.C., is using the platform or the parks are using the platform to communicate with people who may be coming to the inauguration. So they'll push out things like safety announcements. There's the national campaign of “see something, say something” — the more people can report back to the law enforcement agencies, the more information they can get out to secure an area and keep people safe. Everbridge has employees in and around the D.C. area as well, so we're also monitoring what's going on for the protection of our own employees and making sure that they're safe, and able to continue working around the clock as we do every day. I mean, from an entire environment perspective, that's what we do: We respond to and keep people safe and businesses running. So it's important for us to understand that we have a platform that will be able to provide whatever assistance any of our customers need. I think the concern might be more global — we’re a global company that makes sure we're able to protect any asset across the entire world.

SDM: Speaking of protection, what does preparation and response for the inauguration look like from a critical event management perspective?

BT: My background is heavy on the government side, and things typically start local and end local. The Washington, D.C. area will be doing what they have to do to secure their premises and the residents around there, but the federal government is really the one who responds to and oversees the response to inauguration. It’s a federal event, it's on federal property, so the federal government will really be the ones who coordinate that. They'll be sending information out to their counterparts at those state and local levels. And then nationally, they'll be pushing things out and even internationally pushing things out. We've been through a sensitive time, so it's natural understanding that information is going to be shared across the greater spectrum of people out there.

SDM: What is the role of your partners and their customers in the coming weeks (pre-inauguration and post-inauguration) and how can software solutions like Everbridge help solve some of those security concerns partners might have?

BT: We're more or less on that line of the critical communication perspective. Some of our customers may be doing things like monitoring their IT networks and infrastructure, again, keeping their employees safe and understanding what's going on around the area. From a holistic perspective, we're making sure that the entire network we monitor and the entire network we send messages across is available for them — that’s what we do on a daily basis. From a hyperlocal level, our expectation is that customers are going to use the platform the way they do every day. Every day, they're responding to critical events, whether it's a weather event [or] a road closure. It doesn't really matter what the event is; they're using the platform to send out that secure and most trusted communication.

SDM: Is Everbridge working on any specialized solutions in response to the civil unrest that we had last year and already this year?

BT: From a critical communication perspective, there's nothing different from what we normally do every day. Our platform was built for this type of response, no matter if it was a civil unrest or a car accident. What we are doing, though, from a specialized perspective, is we're also heavily focused on the vaccine and making sure people know where the vaccine is [and] when it's available. We recently pushed out a campaign for scheduling our most vulnerable populations, our elderly, to be able to receive a vaccine.

SDM: What were some of the lessons learned from the 2016 inauguration? How are you applying them to the 2021 inauguration?

BT: We were able to push out a lot of messages that were needed in that area. But even so, we understood things. Using communication tools to understand if there are there gaps in cell phone coverage in certain areas, and whether you can improve that cell phone coverage. That's really what communication is all about: getting the message out to as many people as possible, and then understanding if they can receive that message. So some of those lessons learned were just about that. We constantly are working with our partners on improving how they communicate with their stakeholders, which in this case will be the citizens and anybody who's coming to the inauguration.