Zemcar’s Trust Advisor Makes Emergency Planning Relatable

Amanda Robbins serves as Zemcar’s Trust Advisor. She has over ten years experience working in risk management in both the public and private sector, including as a policy advisor for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Emergency planning happens every day, in all of our lives. Yes, there are significant differences in the assets we personally strive to protect versus, say, the Department of Defense, and significant differences in the way we counter risks to those assets. But quite honestly, the way we think through it is very similar.

Let’s start with the idea that whether we are talking about thwarting a threat at a K-12 school, securing Fort Bragg, or protecting a Fortune 500 company from a cyber threat, planning and preparedness can be the difference between saving lives and protecting assets and suffering a complete catastrophe. Resilience is something we talk about a lot in the security/emergency management world — meaning, the ability to bounce back, to rebuild, to overcome. Without adequate planning and preparedness efforts, resilience is a near improbability. And this same concept can be applied to our everyday lives as well.

I am not suggesting that preparing for and combating kiddo #2’s or inevitable bout of the flu is the same as some very complex scenarios, like securing a U.S. military base, but we can break down the risk assessment process, and subsequent emergency planning, in much the same way.

Think about it this way — you plan for identified risks/protecting assets in your own life such as illness (flus, colds, broken bones, hopefully nothing worse); car and home repairs; education costs (yes, this could be a ‘risk’ considering the cost of college these days!); career changes; retirement; among others. To combat, or mitigate, these risks you plan for their eventuality in a smart and meaningful way, often based on their probability and the resources you have available to provide a solution. We start with these same concepts in the security/emergency management world.

In emergency planning in any scenario we identify the assets; identify potential risks to those assets (usually based on empirical data); determine the probability of that risk occurring; and calculate the potential impact and consequence. We also have to consider the countermeasures we already have in place to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from a potential incident; these can lessen the probability and/or impact.

With all these factors laid out, we can determine how to most effectively and efficiently plan.

An example that might be relatable: Maybe one of your biggest assets is your personal retirement funds because you have decided that the time is nearing and you really want to be able to maintain a certain lifestyle (including paying your mortgage!). You might want to start by considering the risks to those funds such as shifts in the market, volatility in your investments, or a lower contribution level than what is needed for the end goal. Do you know the probability of those risks impacting your funds? I am sure your financial planner can tell you. And I am sure they have also suggested ways to minimize those risks along the way. But is it good enough, are there other risks you missed? Knowing the end goal for your asset (the funds at a certain level, at a certain age), the potential risks, and the countermeasures already in place, you can determine any other gaps and make a plan to prevent or lessen the risk. Seems pretty simple, and I bet most of you are already doing this.

Security/emergency management professionals go through basically the same process. It can certainly get more complicated, depending on the asset and the risks, but that is the general approach.

And you shouldn’t be afraid of applying it to all the assets in you and your family’s life. Give it a try. I bet you come up with some risks and ways to counter those risks that you have not thought of before. This exercise could save you time and/or money and possibly even prevent a serious incident.


Zemcar CEO Juliette Kayyem Shares July 4th Safety Tips

Whether you are going into the city for the Boston Pops or enjoying a local parade, there are a number of concerns you may have as a parent when it comes to keeping your family safe in a large crowd. While July 4th is a time of celebration, it doesn’t hurt to have some precautionary measures in place. This can include plans and measures to prevent (where possible) and mitigate: inclement weather, lost/wandering children, crowd management, and traffic and parking navigation, among other things.

As most of my advice for keeping the home safe entails, this is no different: just be prepared. Know the specifics of the event you are attending and have a plan.

Some things to consider to make your day more enjoyable and decrease risk:

  • Transportation and parking. Does it make the most sense to drive and park, take public transportation, use a ride service, or even walk? Think about traffic, parking fees, road closures, public transit crowds – and pick what is most amenable to your family and the plans for the day.
    What you can and cannot bring. Many events limit what you can bring in, including backpacks and food, so be prepared. If you absolutely need certain items like medication or snacks, make sure you research the rules beforehand and get any special permissions needed.
  • Entry items and identification. Things such as tickets, passes, ID of any kind. Have them ready and easily accessible; then secured on your person once no longer needed for entry.
  • Evacuation routes. Know how to move away from the event, either by car/vehicle or on foot. If the event is inside a building, know your exit points. Talk to the whole family about the routes you have identified.
  • Family separation. Whether a wandering child or an evacuation, there is a risk of being separated from your group. Make a plan with everyone you are attending the event with on where to meet and how best to communicate if you are separated. This may include telling your child to stay where they are and you will find them, depending on the event logistics. Make sure your children have your cell phone number.
  • Event resources. Make sure your children know where and to whom to go to in case they need help. Point out security or other staff, or certain areas designated for these folks/this purpose, when you get to the event.

And most of all, have fun! There is always some element of risk in large crowds, but with some planning and preparation, you can rest easier with the knowledge you have of the event and surrounding area.

Showing Our ZemDads Some Love Too!

Moms are not the only ones trying to juggle the chaos of parenthood, especially when both parents are working outside the home. A survey from the Pew Research Center in 2017 found that a quarter of couples (27%) who live with children younger than 18 are in families where only the father works. This marks a dramatic change from 1970, when almost half of these couples (47%) were in families where only the dad worked. The same research shows that dads are much more involved in childcare than they were 50 years ago. In 2015, fathers reported spending, on average, seven hours a week on childcare – almost triple the time they provided back in 1965.

This suggests that the changing roles and family dynamics over the last couple of decades has also led to new challenges for fathers, as dads juggle the competing demands of family and work. The research shows that about half of working dads (52%) say it is very or somewhat difficult to do so, and about three-in-ten working dads (29%) say they “always feel rushed.”

Although this study did not ask about family transportation needs, we know that the transportation struggle is equally as real for dads. From speaking with some of our ZemDads we also know that getting all the kids from here to there, on-time, and most importantly safely, is a challenge dads do not lightly. Zemcar data shows that 32% of our active customers (those that are the ones ordering the rides for their family) are male. Go Dads (or grandpas, or male caregivers)!

Our ZemDads are proactive members of the “security parent” club as are our Moms, and have some unique perspectives when it comes to transportation safety for their family. They most certainly take an active role in asking the right questions, picking drivers that match their needs, and monitoring the rides. We have learned a lot from our dads and hope the dialogue continues!

Happy Fathers Day to our ZemDads and all the Dads out there!!!


Zemcar’s Trust Advisor Highlights the Importance of Focusing on Safety in Rideshares

Amanda Robbins serves as Zemcar’s Trust Advisor. She has over ten years experience working in risk management in both the public and private sector, including as a policy advisor for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Rideshare for children. This concept should be synonymous with safety. However, this is not an organic component of the larger rideshare environment, as has been identified in many (scary) articles and investigations. Safety has to be a dedicated focus to be successful. Creating a rideshare for children is a specialty. It is a niche market for the simple fact that its customers, its riders, are our most vulnerable population and they require (and deserve) a different set of rules.

Traditional rideshare companies have, in not so many words, admitted as such by stating in their terms of service that they do not accept unaccompanied minors as passengers. The reality is the legal teams there are smart, they do not want to take on this risk, and they advise their drivers to also not take the risk. So the question is, why would you as a parent take the risk? Especially if you do not have to.

Safety should be the standard when we are talking about anything child related. I come from a security background that includes assessing risk and vulnerability at schools. It is a similar concept: we do not want to entrust our children to anyone who does not have the training and is not prepared to protect them to the best of their abilities.

When I first joined the rideshare world, I tried to look at my position as the Trust Advisor as a parent and a professional. Both were telling me to treat this as I would treat the safety and security evaluations and emergency planning for a school environment (or a daycare facility, or other similar entity that I have worked with in the past). Start with the assets. Yes, this a very rough term when talking about children, but the meaning is what is important – what is so critical to this ‘operation’ that we could not survive a loss of that ‘asset.’ Easy, the children. So it is also easy to know where to go from there: focus all attention and resources on protecting the children.

That is what a rideshare designed for children does. The same as a school or daycare, maybe even more so in that a driver’s only responsibility is to get the child there and back safely, albeit with some friendly banter of course, but they really are not responsible for teaching them to how to be good humans, or how to do long division.

If all our resources are not focused on this concept of safety then we are doing it wrong and are going to fail. That is why there have been so many (too many) scary stories about the larger rideshare community doing it wrong when it comes to safety. And really, safety for children (which they do not focus on at all), but also safety for their drivers and more vulnerable passengers. We can save that larger conversation for another day. Today, I wanted to focus on the children.