Every day on our social media platforms, Global Rescue posts a number of events that may affect your travel. What is this information, where does it come from, and how do you use it? Global Rescue intelligence experts explain the importance of travel alerts.
Have you seen travel alerts on Global Rescue’s social media platforms? Every day, Global Rescue posts a number of events — from transportation strikes to earthquakes to COVID-19 restrictions — that may affect travel. Here’s a sampling:
Travel Alert: A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima. The epicenter of the quake was located 66 kilometers (41 miles) east-northeast of Namie and 96 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Sendai. A tsunami warning has been issued. Avoid the affected area and expect possible disruption to travel and essential services.
Travel Alert: In Finland, 25,000 nurses affiliated with Union of Health and Social Care Services and Finnish Union of Practical Nurses are participating in a nationwide strike. The work stoppage is expected to impact services in several hospital districts. Continue to monitor local media for up-to-date information.
What is this information, where does it come from, and how do you use it? Global Rescue intelligence experts explain the importance of travel alerts.
Travel Alerts, Defined
Travel alerts, also called event reports, aim “to inform members of incidents in their area of travel that could affect their trip, cause an inconvenience, put them at risk of physical harm, or could potentially leave them stranded,” said Kent Webber, senior manager of Intelligence Products & Services at Global Rescue.
Travel alerts are issued for incidents of:
- Violence (terrorism, shootings, clashes, etc.)
- Environmental events (earthquakes, floods, mudslides, storms, etc.)
- Health issues (COVID restrictions, disease outbreaks, etc.)
- Infrastructure events (bridge collapses, large scale power/internet outages, fires, building collapses, airport issues, etc.)
- Civil unrest (strikes, protests, demonstrations, etc.)
“Events must meet specific threshold criteria, for example, we don’t report on earthquakes under 6.0 or earthquakes occurring in the middle of the ocean that do not impact travelers,” Webber said. “There are always exceptions – if an earthquake under 6.0 causes massive destruction, death, injuries or tsunamis, we will issue an alert.”
Travel alerts are compiled by Global Rescue’s in-house Intelligence team.
“We run a virtual 24/7/365 ‘Intelligence Watch’ that combs the internet for information relevant to travelers. How and where we get our information is proprietary,” Webber said. “Although we are all generalists, we have team members with regional expertise: Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.”
Where to Find Travel Alerts
In addition to travel alerts, the Global Rescue Intelligence Team publishes destination reports. Destination reports provide information for 215 countries and principalities, including an overall risk assessment and detailed evaluations of health and security risks, general information about the country, and emergency contacts.
Global Rescue members are able to access more information on the destination reports than what is provided by the abbreviated travel alerts on social media. To find travel alerts, members should click on destination reports, select the continent on the left and the country on the right. An overview appears at the top of the page.
Alerts are listed in the middle column, and members can read the summary or click on “full story” to read the entire report.
In the right column, a map with flashing circles (green: low risk, yellow: moderate risk, orange: high risk, red: extreme risk) provides a visual location of events countrywide.
“We typically publish 30 to 40 travel alerts in a 24-hour period,” Webber said. “Some alerts are continually updated. For example, one day in March, we published six reports (one initial, five updates) on the earthquake in Japan in addition to our other travel alerts.”
All members may access destination reports by logging into the membership portal or the My Global Rescue app.
“Pre-Travel” Preparation and “During Travel” Awareness
Say you’re traveling to Finland and you learn nurses will be on strike nationwide for an undetermined period of time. What does this have to do with you?
If you’re traveling with a health risk, this strike might be a matter of life and death if you can’t afford a delay in care. If you’re planning an outdoor activity — like trying Finland’s newest extreme sport called ice karting, driving go-karts with studded tires on iced-over circuits — you may also want to consider the nursing strike.
“Members can use the information as part of trip planning, as a way to structure activities during travel (avoid places where demonstrations are occurring), seek guidance during an emergency, or respond appropriately to an incident to avoid inconvenience or harm,” Webber said.
Global Rescue event travel alerts also provide extra detail and guidance to help you make your travel decisions.
“Our reports provide analysis: Is this common or unique? Why is this happening? What can we expect in the short term? What is being done about it?” Webber said. “Our intelligence experts also offer mitigation advice, such as ‘avoid a certain area’ or ‘comply with instructions from local first responders’.”
Alerts, Notices and Advisories
Other government agencies also publish alerts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues travel health notices about current issues impacting travelers’ health in destinations around the world. The U.S. Department of State posts travel advisories online and provides free service, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), allowing U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to receive the latest security updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
“STEP’s security alerts tend to be more general (criminal activity likely to spike over the holidays) or higher-level events, such as a recommendation that all U.S. persons exit a given country due to a given occurrence,” Webber said.
Compared to state department travel alerts, Global Rescue offers a more personalized approach to travel planning and during-travel awareness.
“We seek to report on levels and types of incidents in a more specific, tailored manner to provide our members with useful information that can improve their travel experiences by keeping them informed and able to make appropriate decisions,” Webber said.
The Global Rescue Advantage
Consumer members log in to the member portal and view travel alerts on a destination report. Enterprise members receive travel alerts via email by setting up their preferences in GRID, an online intelligence system for businesses and nonprofits. When employees are traveling, risk managers or HR managers can “tailor the alerts they receive according to location, type of incident and severity, so they get the information they most need to see,” Webber said.
Not a member? Global Rescue posts abbreviated travel alerts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn two or three times daily and, this spring, on our Travel Information Center. The Travel Information Center is the ultimate hub of resources — health, security, weather, to name a few — to serve as a one-stop travel information source. It will also host a Risk Map, with risk ratings related to civil unrest, terrorism, crimes, diseases and more.
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