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Locating and Communicating Employees During Sri-Lanka’s 2019 Attacks



In a crisis, without a system in place to track and communicate with international and domestic travellers and employees, it can be difficult to reach out to them. The case below highlights the issues faced by a security director during the 2019 Sri-Lanka terror attacks. Tracker fully leverages International SOS subscription so organisations can meet their Duty of Care obligations. Tracker also helps them comply with business continuity, crisis and employee travel policies


The Sri-Lanka terrorist attacks were an anxious time for businesses with employees in Sri-Lanka. Frank Johanssen is a security director at an American software company. He knew he had several employees based in and travelling to Sri-Lanka on business.

However, Frank did not know where they were working or staying. Moreover, it was the start of the USA’s Thanksgiving holiday. Travel businesses that could help him were either closed or running only with a skeleton staff. The company had International SOS subscription which could provide invaluable on-the-ground help for employees. However, Frank needed to be able to contact them first.

Frank spent 33 hours on the telephone over four days and contacted 28 travel agencies. He finally established that five employees were still in Sri-Lanka. Two employees had changed their hotel without informing the head office. It took six days for Frank to contact everyone and be satisfied that they were safe.  

He was determined to introduce a better way of tracking and communicating with employees during a crisis. He felt that his company’s International SOS subscription could be used more effectively and consulted our security experts.


As a result, Frank decided to implement Tracker. Tracker automatically provides a company and International SOS with an aggregated view of the employees’ travel information. This includes locations, flight details, hotel, car rental and contact information. When there is an emergency, Tracker sends automatic alerts to managers. It notifies them on how many employees are in the country and provides advice and information on incident response.

Tracker prepares employees before their journey too. It sends out a pre-travel communication with destination-specific health and safety advice, cultural tips, vaccination requirements and other helpful information. If there is a change to the health or security advice, employees are alerted immediately with an automated email. Lastly, managers can communicate with employees through integrated email, SMS, or text-to-speech services.

Frank was able to get Tracker installed with the help of International SOS technical support in less than three months. He could access Tracker from his laptop or from his phone. All travel bookings were centralised under the company’s newly written travel policy. Frank was satisfied that they now could demonstrate best practice in crisis planning.


Thanks to his International SOS subscription, Frank could contact employees rapidly during the crisis, without reconstructing journeys using travel agencies. His organisation was better able to meet their Duty of Care obligations. Employees too were comforted knowing that their company could get in touch easily in the event of an emergency.