What to Consider When Digitizing Emergency Operations in 2023
Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) are activated when a major incident takes place. But as we’ve learned, the type of EOC matters, as well. Virtual and/or hybrid EOCs, even outside of the pandemic context, save on administrative costs. Why else to digitize emergency operations in 2023?
Digital emergency operations don’t just make sense in the pandemic setting
Well, COVID demonstrated that physical EOCs aren’t always viable. But there’re further benefits to virtual and/or hybrid EOCs, besides facilitating collaboration when traditional, physical locations aren’t (or shouldn’t be) accessible.
For one, virtual EOCs save money on the physical infrastructure needed to run EOCs. That includes meals that don’t need to be catered.
Virtual EOCs also lessen the burden of access controls and security screenings of personnel into a brick-and-mortar facility with security checkpoints.
Similarly, they reduce the need for parking.
What’s more, staff members don’t need to travel into the facility, potentially avoiding travel concerns related to security access, traffic, debris, and/or severe weather.
The enhanced efficiency can then be pumped into improve staff role assignments to physical locations.
The right capabilities to digitize emergency operations in 2023
However, not all virtual and/or hybrid EOCs are created equal.
Only the right platform can help facilitate the fully virtual or hybrid experience needed to recoup the benefits listed above.
To digitize emergency operations this year, the capabilities needed include:
- Ensures responsive design. Such an experience responds intuitively to the screen size of the device being used. With responsive design, the layout of the site just scales from smaller screens (on mobiles, tablets, and small laptops) to standard desktop screens, and even to the larger, widescreen monitors popular in physical EOCs.
The value of this approach is it gives organizations the flexibility and usability that ensures mobile users log all their activities, updates, and decisions in the field. Which, in turn, saves valuable hours when it comes to reconstructing events for an after-action review and increases the likelihood of government reimbursement during the recovery.
- Improves usability. What else improves user experience? One of the biggest drivers of improved user experience is frontend workflows that support key emergency response tasks, keeping staff focused on the response instead of the paperwork.
Relevant workflows for hybrid EOCs include:
- Escalating emergency warning to incidents, and tracking those incidents through their entire lifecycle
- Automatically alerting situationally appropriate stakeholders through helpful message templates
- Creating Incident Action Plans (IAPs)
- Requesting and tracking resources as well as assigning tasks
- Capturing relevant information through forms tailored to specific roles
- Mapping incidents, resources, assets, critical infrastructure, etc. to gain a bird’s-eye view of a situation
- Assessing Community Lifelines to ensure stability of lifesaving public services
- Fits your needs not the other way around. Easy-to-use, drag-and-drop capabilities of no-code hybrid EOC platforms enable organizations to make mid-incident configurations, quickly creating new data models for any kind of information desired, by just dragging and dropping fields into a new object.
That same “designer” feature-set allows agencies to create forms to present the new data in a friendly way for users.
From there, workflow builders tie everything together – helping organizations plan out new business processes for what should happen when different trigger events occur, then using automation to accelerate the response.
- Secure. The rising number of cyberattacks on public and private-sector targets means organizations should carefully consider the data security and integrity credentials of their hybrid EOC and emergency management platform vendors, even if they’re already doing due diligence.
Here, ISO 27001 certification and Information Security Registered Assessors Program-auditing are good markers of a secure solution.
Finally, as critical threats rise in kind and complexity, agencies and organizations must reevaluate the tools needed to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
For instance, investments will be required to facilitate the digital and/or hybrid operations needed during disasters that make meeting face-to-face impossible, unhealthy, or impractical. For more tips on what those investments should look like, download our latest, Integrating Best Practice into Virtual Emergency Operations.