Have you ever wondered what you could do if you had extra time during a crisis? You could plan and execute better, pivot, and mitigate any damage. Crisis management is becoming an increasingly important discipline in today's world, yet many individuals and organisations remain slow to adopt these crisis management measures, and as a result, find themselves vulnerable to adversity, costing them a lot of time and money.
Today, I caught up with Rashid Khan, the Founder and CEO of Evacovation, a company focused on saving lives through effective emergency management systems. Rashid has spent the last seven years developing one of the most innovative emergency management apps. As an all-rounded security and risk specialist with a background in law enforcement and IT, Rashid has accumulated over 15 years of experience working with leading corporations, and has observed a variety of deep-rooted issues in the emergency management sector in both public and private domains.
Rashid founded Evacovation as a solution to address these challenges with an innovative and practical approach, while adhering to Australian Standards of planning and preparedness. Evacovation aims to revolutionise the emergency management sector to be safer, faster, easier, and much more cost-effective. Due to Evacovation’s unique and proven approach, they are trusted by many multinational and renowned organisations such as PepsiCo, Energy Queensland, and Logan City Council.
Most recently, Rashid has been nominated as one of the finalists for Startup Executive of the Year 2021 by CEO magazine.
Q: Hi Rashid. Thank you so much for joining me today. Let's start with your life growing up. What was it like for you?
Ans: Having grown up in different cultures, I consider myself blessed. I had an amazing childhood in Pakistan in the 80s. My strongest memory is of an emergency incident that happened on 10 April 1988, where I brought 18 young children to safety as a schoolgoing kid. Since then, I’ve worked relentlessly to save lives.
Q: What were you doing before you founded Evacovation?
Ans: I spent 13 years working in multiple business domains of the financial sector, including IT, security, emergency management and investigations. I served one of the top 4 banks in Australia, and also founded a few small startups.
Q: Tell us more about your current role.
Ans: I’m currently serving Evacovation as the CEO for the past 2 years and counting. Our mission is to save lives and manage emergencies using the most effective, efficient and technologically advanced solutions, while continuously improving emergency response policies, structures and processes to serve humanity. Our operations significantly contribute to 6 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we’re proud to be part of ARISE, a network of private sector entities led by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).
Q: What is emergency management?
Ans: Emergency management refers to the arrangements to mitigate, respond to, and recover from emergencies. Evacovation is an app built to address six different forms of emergencies: Fires, Evacuations, Bomb Threats, Personal Threats, Active Shooters, and Floods. Our role as a company is to assess risk and make preparations for crisis management through forward planning.
Q: Why is it important for other companies to use the solutions you provide?
Ans: The technology is continuously evolving, but for some reason, the development and adoption rate of these technologies within the emergency management industry has been slow. Today, more than ever, we need to accept and adapt to using apps such as Evacovation to automate the processes to save us critical time during emergencies, and subsequently save lives.
Q: People often think that crisis management and risk management are the same thing. Can you share with us the difference?
Ans: Risk management is identifying, assessing, and mitigating any activity that could cause harm, while crisis management is about responding to, managing and recovering from an unforeseen event. Our domain of emergency management encompasses both risk and crisis management because we cover mitigation, preparation, response and recovery.
Q: There are six stages within every crisis: (1) warning; (2) risk assessment; (3) response; (4) management; (5) resolution; and (6) recovery. Which stage is the most important, and why?
Ans: All these steps are critical to manage an incident, but I believe there is an overarching principle which is crucial to not only handle these stages, but vital for the whole process, and that is communication. From what I’ve observed throughout my career, communication is often the first thing that breaks down in any emergency, which is why at Evacovation, we’re focused on addressing the most significant component, which is emergency management communication.
Q: In most crises, there are 3 common elements, such as threats to the organisation, an element of surprise, and a short window of time to make critical decisions. How can one effectively manage a crisis they’re facing?
Ans: The most critical element is to save lives; the second-most critical is to minimise its impact. The only way to effectively survive any crisis is to create as much time as possible for yourself to make critical decisions with, and maintain an unbroken chain of communication. We focus on minimising the impact of any crisis by using technology to its greatest effect. Between now and 2050, the number of people exposed to disasters at a global scale will be doubled, which, at a prudent estimate, is 5 billion people. What we must do is to learn from each one of these crises, upscale our level of preparedness, and utilise the tools and technologies which will help us survive.
Q: What's next for you and your company?
Ans: We’re always working to take emergency response management to the next level. We wish for Evacovation to become a household product globally, as emergencies have no boundaries. We have a long-term vision of innovating our systems to eventually be used for space travel, where we help manage emergencies remotely and play our role in humanity’s leap into the cosmos. We want to simplify emergency response management systems, make them more cost-effective, and create a globally integrated system of emergency respondents, because we believe that no one deserves to lose his life or his loved one due to a disaster.