Don't Use Software? It Might Be The Solution Your Response Team Needs
Technological change impacts every profession -- but its impact on the responder world is constantly evolving. Most recently we saw a new use of technology across New York City, cellphones blared on a Monday morning with the dissonant but familiar tone of an emergency alert, typically used for weather-related advisories or abducted children. For what is believed to be the first time, the United States Wireless Emergency Alerts system was deployed as an electronic wanted poster
Modern responders have access to information that is nothing like their predecessors. Mobile phone, sensors, geographic information systems (GIS), resource management systems, and other technologies are increasingly being used to ensure readiness and inform them how to respond.
First responders have new tools, new techniques, and new resources at their disposal – and of course, they face new challenges.
4 Benefits of Using Software for Response Team Management
1) It’s a centralized location for storing information.
In response, preparedness and readiness is critical. Spending precious time searching through an inbox, spreadsheet or log book to get an equipment status or training record is a huge waste of a responders time. It’s also unreliable – paper can get lost and spreadsheets risk corruption.
Software provides a full, accurate record of a team’s entire status with respect to readiness for tasking, that’s accessible with one click. Management will never have to manually construct an equipment audit or a report on training records again.
2) It benefits communication across a team.
In addition to making life easier for teams, software systems also improve communication at the organizational level. What if a responder is inspecting and maintaining the same equipment a colleague just signed off as operational? What if training opportunities are missed by a responder as they were not aware it was being conducted and have only been given an indecipherable Excel spreadsheet of future training opportunities?
With a centralized software system personnel can immediately assess what’s already been done with a given piece of equipment and what inspections are due next. Your personnel don’t need to reach out to management (and vice versa) to get updates on training because the information they need is already in the system.
3) Software makes responders’ lives easier.
Another organization-wide benefit: Software standardize how we work and conduct administrative tasks, which streamlines reporting.
Without software, different personnel can track activities in different ways, which makes it difficult for managers and leaders to piece data together to form a coherent picture. Software makes data entry uniform, meaning managers can easily combine and analyze data to understand the overall state of an organization.
4) It’s a sustainable tool for the future.
You might be asking yourself, “Can’t I just do this all in a spreadsheet and call it a day?” With small numbers of personnel or equipment, manually tracking every interaction is doable. But as you add more personnel, with multiple qualifications and expire dates things can get out of hand quickly.
When it comes to equipment. Presumably, people move on or change roles, and the time your current personnel have spent recording equipment and inventory information is eventually going to be outdated or indecipherable. Furthermore, what if you want to analyze your team’s activities to discover what equipment purchases or training works the best (or, frankly, anything else about organization)? Pulling inconsistently tracked data from multiple sources can drag out or compromise your ability to get an accurate picture.
Ultimately, there’s a very simple question you should ask yourself if you’re considering software: Do you want to increase efficiency and reduce administrative burden for personnel and management? Just like a response, success and your ability to achieve this is dependent on the tools you choose to use.