Atlas: Ready for Business
As a core component of GDPC's Business Preparedness Initiative, Atlas: Ready for Business is a scalable mobile application aimed at preparing small businesses to withstand common crises they might face, such as a natural disaster. The mobile application is one step in the process of implementation of a Business Preparedness Plan. The app utilizes interactive features to guide small businesses to customize their business plan step-by-step, including chat sessions with Atlas that prompt the user to assess their level of preparedness, test progress, and guide the user on the unique journey towards resilience.
The Atlas app is one useful tool for small to medium businesses that are aware of the need to prepare for crises and are looking for advice on what to actually do. Early adopters of the app in Australia, New Zealand and Uganda indicate the app is a useful way of accessing information on what needs to be done. Use of the app enables business owners to engage in capability building when and where it suits them and to the extent they feel is useful. Every step within the app can make a difference to their ability to better get through a disaster.
The relative newness of this app as a medium for enabling changed behaviours means that scientific studies have not yet been completed and published to verify its impact. Our research from pilot evaluations suggests the app is successful at creating an intent to change. Verification of action and the impact on disaster recovery outcomes will require studies over the longer term.
One of the strengths of the Atlas app is that it is designed to engage the user and to cultivate a preparedness mindset. This is different to other tools on the market that are compliance focused. Compliance focused templates and checklists often do not create a real improvement in preparedness and can create a false sense of security.
There are no other tools in the market that are free, user friendly and aimed at real change rather than compliance.
As users progress through the app they populate a personalised crisis and recovery plan. An important aspect is that it allows businesses to share information with their staff which is a key part of any organisation being better prepared. Plans can also be shared with key business partners and this could be a catalyst for change along a supply chain or within an industry.
The crisis and recovery plan is readily accessible on the users’ mobile device when disaster strikes and can help businesses understand the necessary steps to recover quickly, at a time when clear thinking can be difficult.
Atlas has four levels of content across five subject areas:
- Operational Readiness
- Leadership and Culture
- Networks and Relationships
- Change Readiness
- People at Work
The content enables organisations to learn, practice and improve these areas which are proven to impact on disaster resilience.
The app includes interactive features, including chat that helps the user through their unique journey; guided reflections to assess readiness for a disaster; the ability to allow business owners and managers to assign tasks to another employee; a user-friendly dashboard to track progress; and an auto-generated Crisis and Recovery Plan that can be stored in the cloud and shared with others during a disaster.