With approximately 1,000 employees traveling globally in any given month, National Oilwell Varco (NOV), an oilfield equipment manufacturer, prioritizes protecting its workers. “From a security perspective, our challenge is to ensure that our employees are safe as they go out and meet our diverse customer needs,” says David Dadd, travel security manager and global security operations center (GSOC) manager at NOV.
The company, which has more than 600 facilities and 35,000 employees around the world, produces oilfield equipment, including offshore and deep-water rigs, for customers all over the map. NOV employees are routinely sent to service that equipment and provide support at various locations.
“Our largest presence is in the United States, but we also have a presence in South Africa, Central America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America,” says Bob Bernazal, director of security at NOV. “We do a lot of predictive analysis inside our GSOC to ensure that as our workforce travels, they are not traveling into harm’s way.”
The GSOC gives NOV a precise picture of where its employees are located at any given time, with analysts reviewing real-time information on threats and any potential risks around the globe.
“We use a risk rating to see what kind of risk level there is in that environment,” Bernazal says. “That entails a multitude of things—whether they need geolocation services, or what type of security that’s going to be required by the third party. So, it allows us to properly understand the environment and the risk management techniques that we need to apply to the situation.”
NOV’s security program doesn’t just look after travelers on foreign soil. The company’s risk management program is designed to protect employees at home, too.
When an F5 Tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma, in May of 2013, killing 24 people and injuring more than 200, NOV wanted to garner situational awareness of where its workers were located. Though none of its workers were among those killed, NOV provided a company-funded hotel room to employees in need of assistance.
“Unfortunately NOV was hit pretty hard when the F5 tornado went through Oklahoma,” Bernazal says. “We went through this initial process of just trying to understand where people were located, which was hard from a multinational company perspective.”
While NOV was already taking measures to safeguard its employees, Dadd notes that this incident led to improvements in its security systems by incorporating assets, employees, and travelers worldwide.
NOV adopted a tool called Visual Command Center from IDV Solutions in the summer of 2014 to track and monitor company assets, both domestically and abroad. “We had one half of the puzzle solved, and the other half of that puzzle was trying to communicate directly with our affected employees,” Bernazal notes.
When IDV Solutions was acquired by Everbridge in January 2017, NOV decided to employ Everbridge’s Critical Event Management (CEM) platform alongside Visual Command Center. CEM includes a mass notification tool that pushes out messages to employees in the event of an emergency or incident affecting the company. Employees can choose whether they want to be notified by text, email, or phone, and their order of preference. Workers can also communicate to the company by sending a message back through the Everbridge app or their preferred device.
When Hurricane Harvey struck the southern United States in the summer of 2017, the Everbridge platform was put to use immediately. “We started tracking Hurricane Harvey through the Visual Command Center, which showed the predictive storm path in relation to our assets,” Bernazal says. “So, we were able to tell the senior managers in the company down to the facility managers that, ‘Yes you are indeed in the storm path.’”
Rising floodwaters prevented workers from going to most of NOV’s Houston locations, so the organization used Everbridge to send notices to affected employees about whether to come into work, as well as to gather information on who needed assistance. “We used the mass communication tool to communicate to our Houston-based workforce to say, ‘Do you need assistance?’” Bernazal explains. “Then when they started communicating back to us, we began directing company resources to help those affected by the storm.”
NOV provided resources for its employees whose homes and communities were hardest hit by the storm. “They were deeply grateful that the company would invest not just time and resources in them, but send crews out to their homes to help them in their time of need,” he says.
Another problem was that the security and crisis management team couldn’t be together in one physical location to strategize. “That was the unique challenge of managing this crisis, because we couldn’t all come together in a single setting—so we had to do it all virtually,” Bernazal says.
But with the help of the Everbridge platform, such coordination was possible. “In this case our collective security team and our professionals did a fantastic job in empowering folks to act on behalf of the company—to be nimble and to react and to make the best decisions they could at the time,” he adds.
The Visual Command Center was also used during the 2016 presidential coup d’état attempt in Turkey to help travelers reroute their journeys. A faction of the country’s armed forces organized and attempted to overthrow the government; more than 300 people were killed.
NOV had workers scheduled to travel through Istanbul, where military tanks were roaming the streets—there were even tanks rolling through the airport. “We have the travel itineraries of all our travelers in Visual Command Center, so at any given time, we can see all of our travelers in the world,” Dadd says. “Five travelers were going to be going through Istanbul very soon.”
Using a messaging feature in Visual Command Center to target specific travelers, security informed them they would need to change their travel plans and avoid Istanbul. “In a matter of literally minutes, we were able to push a message to our travelers through Visual Command Center to let them know what the situation was and to reroute their travel,” Dadd says. “So that’s how we find value in how we interact with our traveling workforce.”