Ensure the safety of communities when public spaces reopen
The recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Boulder, Indianapolis and other cities have rocked communities across the country. At a time when Americans are already concerned about public acts of violence, government agencies must re-examine their emergency response preparedness and make improvements where necessary. However, several factors work against these efforts.
First, everyone is inundated with information right now – health guidelines, specific workplace protocols, safety mandates, etc. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic has removed fiscal power from many government agencies, leaving executives and officials with fewer resources to tackle bigger issues.
For these reasons, leaders must invest in and implement technological solutions that have the power to reduce violence and ensure the safety of people in public spaces. With the right technology, emergency response teams can coordinate their efforts more easily, and leaders can make better, real-time decisions that save lives. At the same time, technology can instill confidence in empowering communities and residents to successfully engage in emergency preparedness.
To that end, here are four strategies IT managers can use to strengthen emergency preparedness and ensure residents, students, staff, and others feel safe returning to activities and locations. normal this year.
1. Provide easy-to-use tools for reporting suspicious behavior
The public has an important role to play in mitigating the effects of crises. Decision-makers and response teams are rarely on site when random acts of violence or other emergencies begin. Instead, they often depend on the public to sound the alarm if something goes wrong.
Therefore, leaders must provide intuitive and simple tools so that individuals can report suspicious behavior or concerns. These tools must meet standards at all levels – local, state, and federal – and be accompanied by resources on how to use them in an emergency.
Additionally, reporting tools should integrate with existing communication technologies and work regardless of where residents, employees or students are located. Individuals should also be able to report suspicious behavior anonymously through secure hotlines or mobile security applications that protect them.
2. Make sure all communication protocols are up to date
Leaders should also ensure that protocols, infrastructure and databases related to emergency preparedness are always up to date. Communication channels should be two-way, allowing individuals and emergency response teams to share information. In many cases, individuals can provide useful context for stakeholders before they arrive on site.
In addition, it is essential that the underlying IT infrastructure is efficient, reliable and scalable. Government agencies should be able to send mass communications through automated texts, phone calls, emails and other channels that quickly disseminate information to those who may be affected by an emergency.
Public safety officials should also have the ability to check after action reports to identify opportunities for improvement. Emergency preparedness is a skill that agencies and governments need to develop over time to gain the trust of their local communities.
3. Establish a central command to lead emergency response
Because emergencies tend to cause major stress and anxiety, leaders need to establish clear roles and responsibilities. before things are happening. Residents need to know who to contact first and exactly what information to share so that workers can choose the right course of action. At a higher level, residents, employees, students, and others should be aware of the many response units that may be involved in an emergency.
IT managers should also take advantage of technology to streamline collaboration between response teams and establish central incident command to direct emergency response activities. This helps to alleviate confusion and reduce the “noise” that makes emergencies more complex to manage.
4. Invest in technology to protect public spaces
In light of recent events, government agencies and public safety officials must take action today to give people confidence that they will be safe when spaces reopen in their communities. Technology is the best way to implement robust and scalable protocols with limited resources.
Agencies should seek a critical communication and collaboration platform that enables targeted emergency notifications, supports straightforward reporting tools, and streamlines coordination between stakeholder teams. Digitized contingency plans will let people know where they can find information now – and in the future – when they need it most. They should also ensure that emergency notifications can be sent immediately to notify emergency response teams, authorities and affected communities.
Ultimately, order and clarity are paramount in an emergency. With the right processes, tools and resources in place, government agencies can help communities feel confident and safe to return to public spaces.
Todd Miller is senior vice president of strategic programs at Rave Mobile Safety.