Curate Dashboards NOT Documents in Emergency Response
The goal of information or intelligence management in a response is to produce information useful for decision makers. Information managers curate and analyze information into static and standardized reports that are hard to interact with and update with new and different data and information.
Instead, information managers should focus on publishing information into dynamic dashboards that can be further manipulated by decision makers at their convenience. This is because decision makers may want to quickly probe information directly if they find something potentially alarming. If it requires more analysis, sure, it can be sent back to the situation or intelligence unit. But a 1 minute probe may have just satisfied all of the disaster decision makers concerns, especially when time is a luxury.
On the plus side, you won't need to change as much as you think. In fact, most of what should change is your mindset on how to convey data and information. For example, instead of creating five reports for five groups of people, you are now working to curate five dashboards for the same five groups. The tools may differ, but the process of creating useful information outputs will be similar. Information managers may still need to collect, organize and analyze data and information, but now there are new and better ways to present it.
Look at options
There are plenty of software solutions that support dynamic dashboards, both online and offline. The danger, though, comes when you develop a dashboard before a disaster and have no plans to optimize and update it during a disaster. This optimizing and updating must be incorporated into your response operations in order to provide more useful dashboards based on real-time feedback.
This real-time curation and updating mindset is a shift from the report publication cycles that are often aligned with operational periods. It enables information managers to provide the most up-to-date information to disaster decision makers. This is especially needed when operational periods differ across the many organizations involved in a response.
In many cases as well, you are able to develop automated processes that streamline the collection, organization and analysis of data information. This allows information managers to focus on presenting available information that is most useful to response decision makers rather than spending significant amounts of time processing data and information.
Anyone who has dealt with data understands that data and information processing (e.g., obtaining, scrubbing, exploring, modeling and interpreting) is very time-consuming, but necessary. Any chance to automate processing allows you to focus more on presenting available information in more useful ways to the people who need it.
If dashboards are not yet an option or on your radar (for whatever reason), consider getting into this mindset in your next exercise or response.
- How would you become more "dynamic"? - How would present information in more useful ways? - What tools would you use?
Guest Post by Brandon Greenberg
Bio: Brandon Greenberg, MPA, CEM is the founder of DisasterNet where he advises organizations and communities on the synergies between resilience, innovation and technology. He has 10+ years of experience in emergency response and disaster management and is pursuing a PhD from George Washington University in technology and disaster management. Brandon holds an MPA from NYU's Wagner School of Public Service and a Graduate Certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from UNC-Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Public Health.
He is currently the Co-Chair of the DHS Science & Technology Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG) and member of Operation Dragon Fire (ODF), a high-level public-private initiative led by the CDC to provide better information in disasters. He can be found blogging at DisasterNet.co and tweeting @DisasterNet. He also runs a Weekly Newsletter that highlights innovative technology, projects and research related to disaster management, humanitarian response, and resilience.