August 20, 2019

The recent protests in Hong Kong and resulting disruptions prove the need for travel risk management. Protest leadership remains largely decentralized, but online activists continue to organize demonstrations that draw hundreds to tens of thousands of participants. Bruce McIndoe, Founder of WorldAware, was featured in Phocuswire to discuss how technology aids in travel risk management, especially during situations like in Hong Kong. 

Organizations must determine their risk tolerance for continued operations in Hong Kong given the intelligence and media reporting available. The article states, "Companies with employees traveling to, from and within Hong Kong need to have up-to-date information on what is happening on the ground to assess the level of risk and urgency. Using rules-based algorithms, for example, to flag news reports and social media posts using words such as “earthquake” or “shooting,” the algorithms detect both potential problems brewing around the world and real-time incidents."

"'The second phase is the analysis of all the data to figure out who cares about the particular issue based on the location and the traveler’s profile and itinerary. All of that is managed with humans in the loop, but the magnitude of monitoring the entire world is left to machines,' says Bruce McIndoe." WorldAware has a team of 130 intelligence and security experts providing services to between 250,000 and 350,000 travelers each day.

"Gathering and analyzing information about critical events is just one part of the risk management process. 'We can have great intel and great capability, but if we can’t communicate with the individual, then it’s really all for naught,' McIndoe says. And mobile technology – the combination of smartphones, data networks, Wi-Fi and GPS – makes that communication easy and instantaneous."

[Problems are] managed with humans in the loop, but the magnitude of monitoring the entire world is left to machines.

"McIndoe says this is of value from the moment a destination is being considered. 'Both the employee planning to travel and the organization needs to make sure they are comfortable having the employee go and what they need to do around immunizations and security and even cultural awareness.'"

WorldAware uses a strategy of location awareness rather than tracking an individual at all times. "We basically report in where they are from a city-level basis, and then if there are issues, for example in New York, we would send that alert to all the devices that are reporting they are in New York City. And the device can figure out where they are with precision and how close they are to that issue and whether they should be notified,” McIndoe said.

The Phocuswire article states, "Employees near a threat can be asked to check in with their location, facilitating a direct response to those in need. And McIndoe says in the next decade he expects that not only will the algorithms improve, but systems will also start to incorporate more detailed traveler profile information. This melding of technology and content and contextual information is a very powerful risk management approach.”

Read the full article from Phocuswire.