No doubt about it, volunteer disaster and emergency response agencies have seen enormous strides in emergency management software systems and incident management technology. But have those gains kept up with the unprecedented rise in natural disasters and other emergencies?
Indeed, there’s reason to believe that the growth in the number and severity of emergencies is cancelling out many of the positive benefits agencies had hoped to achieve from digital solutions. How, then, can those organizations make their integrated emergency management software buys count?
Well, for starters, we know the kind of solution to avoid. Too often, advanced emergency management technologies require more dedicated IT expertise to implement than over-burdened IT has to provide.
And that’s not the end of the story. Chances are those solutions only offer functionality for emergency response, not for the entirety of the emergency management lifecycle. So, how can teams leverage advanced emergency management technology to address every stage of the emergency management lifecycle, plus business-as-usual operations and critical infrastructure resilience, as well? Look for a solution that provides these core benefits:
- Establish accurate situational intelligence. To make effective decisions, emergency managers need the best possible information from the field. Data has to be of sufficiently high quality, so that decision makers are able to meaningfully describe relationships. What can integrated emergency management software add? A lot. But only software that provides decision makers with situational awareness of each and every event as well as steady-state operations. Emergency teams need to search for a solution that transmits intelligence from diverse sources and methods, including field personnel, data and GIS feeds, email, and SMS. Best-practice solutions that facilitate more-informed decision making also include comprehensive dashboards for events and operations, as well as integrated, map-based functionality for visualizing the locations of incidents, risks, people, and assets.
- Improve resource and capability management. Getting the right resources to the right place at the right time (during an emergency) will often prove the difference between life or death. Not just effective resource management, either, but ensuring the maximal productivity of those resources once they finally reach the disaster zone. Unfortunately, too many emergency management solutions silo resource and capability management if they treat resources and capabilities at all. Teams need to look out for software that enables advance capability and resource planning, reinforced by delegation, communication, decision making, and (even) inter-agency coordination. The solution should also be able to manage emergency assets and resources, including credentials and certifications. What’s more, the technology should be able to manage resource requests (via best-practice resource request workflows), as well as expenses and mutual aid requests.
- Bring much-needed efficiencies to incident response. Strengthening resource and capability management as well as improving the operating view will redound to the benefit of your responders. But advanced technology can do even more to bolster common response efforts, search and rescue, evacuation systems and procedures, shelters, disaster impact reports, medical care, etc. How? System flexibility, for one. Teams need to be able to manage all information, communications, plans, and tasks within a single, flexible platform. Easing the burden placed on incident managers and dispatchers also brings efficiencies to the response; so integrated emergency management technology should be able to dispatch teams already established with required capabilities and on-call resources as well as mobilize (and demobilize) resources, collaborate with, command and coordinate teams and resources. Also, fully-configurable workflows can lead people through common procedures, automating repetitive aspects of the dispatch process, further removing the burden on dispatchers and incident managers.
Finally, the recent surge in incidents has knocked emergency teams back on their heels, leaving them with solutions lacking the full suite of software capabilities to manage the entire lifecycle of an emergency. Fortunately, there’s a better way to prepare for the era of cascading natural disasters. And that’s integrated emergency management technology that treats every stage of the incident management lifecycle, without sacrificing excess time and money to burdensome IT interventions.
Not sure where to look? Request a demo of Noggin Emergency, the next-generation emergency management software solution that provides all of the information and tools needed to effectively manage all emergencies, through the entire lifecycle as well as business-as-usual operations for emergency preparedness and critical infrastructure resilience.