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Break Down Emergency Management Silos

When disaster strikes, it’s up to a cadre of city leaders to deploy the necessary resources to minimize the damage and safeguard their city’s population. Emergency managers set immediate and long-term strategies to reduce negative impact, often in collaboration with officials in other agencies and departments. In contrast, first responders provide real-time, on-the-ground support to citizens.

While separate teams, who are often in different locations, perform these functions, emergency management tactics must be executed in concert. Without a complete view of what’s happening in the field, emergency managers can’t effectively plan or deploy the resources necessary to minimize a disaster’s impact. In a worse case scenario, mangers may even exacerbate the effects of an emergency by deploying the wrong type or quantity of resources, confusing both citizens and first responders.

Finally, emergency managers must have a clear view of what resources are available to them, not only in the field but also from across multiple city and state agencies. Even if an agency isn’t directly involved in disaster management efforts, they may have valuable data and other resources that could be used to inform response decisions.

Unfortunately, many current municipal governments have difficulty deploying synchronized disaster countermeasures because of the technology they utilize. Of course, much of this new technology including in-the-field sensors, real-time communication channels, and geographic information systems (GIS) help managers do their job better. However, these IT systems also impede cross-departmental coordination when they are deployed ad hoc, without a consideration for integration.

To counter this problem, IBM created Emergency Management Center. This solution allows emergency managers to leverage advanced disaster response technologies, while also enhancing their ability to coordinate across agencies and responders and make better decisions.

The solution provides a unified, real-time view of operations so managers can see what resources and personnel are available and where they are needed. Multiple data sets from the scene of the disaster and from other agencies are aggregated into a single dashboard, even when those entities leverage different technologies than the emergency response center. That data integration allows them to more easily coordinate across departments, because managers know what is available and needed to counter an emergency.

Additionally, the dashboard enhances managers’ ability to make those resource deployment decisions. The solution combines “current operational status” with “consequence analysis”, which results in a real-time geospatial framework that provides command and control functions. And data is presented in a visual, and therefore more easily digestible, manner to enhance decision-making.

Finally, the solution’s full picture view of an emergency can be used to anticipate or even avoid future emergency needs. Historic data from previous disasters can be analyzed to determine what went wrong, and how better it could be handled in the future. Moreover, managers can use the solution to openly share information like crime maps and effectiveness assessments with the public so that they become partners in warding off disaster.

Keeping the public safe is one of the most important strategic objectives of municipal governments. From hurricanes and earthquakes to fires and criminal activity, emergencies threaten to endanger lives, damage critical infrastructures, destroy property and interrupt essential public services. IBM’s Emergency Management Center gives emergency managers the full picture of resources, processes, and on-the-scene details to help them mitigate the impact of these disasters and safeguard the public.

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