6 Information Management Challenges In An Emergency Response!
Easy access to up-to-date, structured and reliable information can heighten situational awareness and improve the processes associated with an entire incident response.
When an incident occurs, both incident responders and managers are faced with high volumes of information. Their priority is to bring the incident to a swift ending. This means that efficient management of information can relieve some pressure. There are however a number of common information managment challenges associated with incident response. They include;
Paper-Based Information Gathering
When an incident occurs, a high volume of information is traditionally captured by completing paper-based forms by hand, which are later processed. The biggest shortcomings of the paper-based system are the poor quality of the records, a lack of contextual information, and difficulty in instantly analyzing any data captured. Digital forms allow for greater consistency and interoperability.
Time Stamping Information
After an incident has occurred there is a need to report on the events. A major difficulty is recording the times and sequence in which events and tasks occurred. When using paper a possibility is the use of rubber stamps, these are often used in offices to stamp the current date, however this is a cumbersome task. The most efficient method is using a digital timestamp, the time at which an event is recorded by a computer.
Recording of Tasks
Task management is the process of managing a task through its life cycle. Effective task management requires managing all aspects of a task, including its status, priority, time, human and financial resources, notifications, and so on. These can be lumped together broadly into the basic activities of task management. The difficulty during a high stakes event is that tasks are assigned to multiple individuals or teams and there are a number of stages to monitor from who has been assigned the task to whether it’s completed/failed.
Access to Documentation
Often response plans are bulky paper documents in folders that are stored on a bookcase in an operation center. When needed such folders may not be available immediately at the scene and depending on the scenario personnel may not be familiar with the relevant parts of a plan they are to enact.
Managing Multiple Sources of Information
During an incident, information is everywhere and arriving in many forms. Managers may be receiving radio communications, video streams, photos, calls, emails, texts, alarm notifications, and paper forms. Finding the best method to manage it is a major challenge. The ideal solution when managing such large volumes of information is to capture all the data in an information management system which acts as a single source of truth.
Quickly Querying Information
Being able to effectively query information captured during an incident can be difficult as it is coming from multiple sources. However, when managed effectively it can improve an organization’s situational awareness. Situational awareness is more complex than simply noticing what is happening around you. An emergency manager must capture clues and cues in the emergency environment, make sense of the information, and predict what will happen next.