Emergency Operations Centers: Is it time to change how information is managed?
Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) need information to function. An analogy often used when talking about real time information management is the stock market. Think about it, there was a time when you found out a stock’s price a day later in the newspaper. Today we have immediate access to the essential information needed to make important decisions about the financial markets. Emergency Operations Centers should have the same immediate access to information.
An emergency operations center (EOC) is a central command and control facility responsible for carrying out the principles of emergency preparedness and emergency management. The EOC functions at a strategic level in an emergency situation, ensuring the continuity of operations of an geographical area or organization.
An EOC is responsible for the strategic overview, or "big picture", of the operation, and does not normally directly control field assets, instead making operational decisions and leaving tactical decisions to lower commands. The common functions of all EOC's are to collect, gather and analyze data; make decisions that protect life and property, maintain continuity of the community or organization.
Like with most operations, the first and most critical component of an EOC is the individuals who staff it. When an emergency occurs or there is a disruption to the business, organized teams will respond in accordance with established plans. They must be properly trained, and have the proper authority to carry out actions that are necessary to respond effectively.
A critical component of an EOC is it's communications system. This is how organizations get information into the EOC to start managing it. This is achieved by using various radio technologies, email and integration with telephone systems. As information comes in it is transferred to paper, as forms are completed and then information is relayed onto white boards using markers. Information tends to be hand written and in time this can become labour intensive and there is little ability to recall information. The EOC plans are often kept in binders which incorporates another reliance on paper.
Today in all environments, we have access to more information than ever before. Vast amounts of data streams and information need to be analyzed, combined and actioned upon, creating a complexity that goes far beyond mere human management. Now it is plausible to have the option of a virtual EOC. This could occur in several ways. Given the growing utilization of "cloud" technologies, the possibility of individuals working collaboratively, yet not being located in the same physical location is now a strong possibility. This means people at the scene can instantly update data into the EOC, which allows for the integration of information from multiple users in real-time and eliminates the need for dependency on paper, local networks, USB drives, and other physical backup systems.
We see the future of your response collaboration similar to the stock market example, where your decision makers have immediate access to the essential information needed. There will be a transformation in the way organizations exchange critical data in an open and real-time manner. This is why we built [D4H]™ Live Operations Platform to be the best possible platform available for your organization's real time collaboration.