According to Erickson (2006), data and information drive emergency response. This is especially true in multi-agency and multi-jurisdiction (MA/MJ) emergency response. When multiple agencies and jurisdictions are involved the complexity of the situation multiplies, the amount of data and information multiplies, and the need for communication and information management technology multiplies. Software applications can play a vital role in emergency response.
In MA/MJ emergency response, software applications can assist in the following areas:
• Developing and sharing a common operating picture/situational awareness
• Activate and deploy resources and capabilities
• Coordinate response actions
• Radio communications interoperability
• Data interoperability
• Information sharing
• Emergency Planning, Response, and Recovery/Demobilization
These applications can support operations from:
• Field level to the EOC
• Across local, regional, State, and Federal agencies and jurisdictions.
The act of emergency management is an operational one. People need to take action to get the emergency handled effectively. A MA/MJ emergency response creates a large operational network. A critical supporting element is the right technology network, the right software applications that can assist in achieving a positive outcome.
It is important then for emergency managers to be able to select the right software applications for their needs. There are a number of software applications that are marketed as being able to support MA/MJ response. It can be difficult to separate one from another or to have a structured approach to evaluating various applications.
The following is offered as a simple framework you can use to differentiate applications under consideration.
This evaluation framework consists of ratings from 1 to 5 that reflect how well the application meets the operational needs in five major areas:
1. Phase of Operations – Planning, Response, Recovery
2. Command and Management – Incident Command (IC), Unified Command (UC), Area Command (AC), and Unified Area Command (UAC). This rating reflects how well the application supports each level of command and management and is reflective of how well the application also supports gaining and maintaining a common operating picture and situational awareness in a MA/MJ response.
3. Interoperability – for Voice, Radio, and Data. This is a rating of how well the application supports the function of getting radios of different types and frequencies and other voice communication devices (telephones, cell phones, PDA’s) to talk to each other. Interoperability Data is a rating of how well the application supports the function of data interoperability between different databases and operating systems.
4. Information Exchange – for collaboration and information sharing (situational awareness and common operating picture). The Collaboration rating describes how well the application supports online and electronic collaboration, or how well the application can help people make joint decisions. The information Sharing rating describes how well the application supports online and electronic document and other information sharing like maps, resource lists and whatever else may be needed.
5. Usability – how complex is it and is it flexible enough to meet changing needs and conditions. Easy is a rating of how easy the application is to learn and use from the perspective of an operator. A higher number means it is easier to use, which is an indication of training needs. Flexibility is a rating of how the software can be used not only in a MA/MJ emergency but in daily public safety and emergency management operations. A higher number means the application is more flexible and can be used for more than a MA/MJ response.
The ratings under each area range from
0 = Not Applicable/does not support this are at all
1 = Does not support this area well
3 = Supports this area
5= Supports this area very well
You rate each application and then compare them.
Do this in a spreadsheet and you can add more information and categories for easy comparison.
I hope this is helpful.
Erickson, P. (2006). Emergency Response Planning for Corporate and Municipal Managers, Second Edition. Burlington: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.
Leave a comment
I usually write about topics that are for the benefit of public safety technology users. This time, I am writing about something for the technology company. The Center for Digital Government has just come out with their Emergency Management Navigator site. The site provides a wide range of information about Emergency Management and Public Safety markets, grants, and RFPs.
Of particular interest to the sales and marketing departments will be the Jurisdictions section that includes contact information for city, county, and state departments including fire, police, planning and homeland security, emergency management, IT, and purchasing. I found the information to be up to date, which is not usually the case with these listings. Very refreshing. The folks at the Center for Digital Government spend a lot of time making sure they are as accurate as possible.
The other section technology companies will like is the RFP information. This section lists RFIs, RFPs, and awards. The search capabilities are excellent. You can slice and dice by bid type, state, levels of government (city, county, state, or regional), and by a multitude of bid categories. Your search setting can be saved and you can receive email notifications with the latest news and RFPs.
Overall, the site is very well done and if you sell to the emergency management market this deserves a look.
For more information contact:
Director of Navigator Services
Center for Digital Government
A division of e.Republic | Smart Media for Public Sector Innovation
Leave a comment
Latest Emergency Management News
Modeled after the national Community Emergency Response Team program, more than 500 colleges run C-CERTs to increase on-campus emergency preparedness.
The Golden Guardian exercise helps California agencies practice emergency response and recovery after a simulated earthquake hits the San Francisco Bay Area.
Pamela Jenkins, research professor of sociology, addresses the “unevenness of the recovery” in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.