My journey with WebEOC began 8 years ago when I accepted a job working for the Technical Support Department. During that time, I worked on many boards and problem solving techniques that helped me look “outside of the box” when troubleshooting issues clients faced. From Support, I relocated to Portland, Oregon, where I was contracted as the Regional WebEOC Administrator for the Portland UASI. Over the years, I have been deployed to many onsite activations, including those for:
- Hurricane Gustav – Baton Rouge, LA
- SC Flooding Event – Columbia, SC
- Hurricane Matthew – Raleigh, NC
During my time onsite for these events, I noticed that most WebEOC Administrators wear multiple hats, meaning that managing WebEOC is not their sole focus. In light of this fact, I have compiled a list of best practices that administrators and IT staff can follow to prepare for an activation, especially if their full-time occupation involves more than exclusively attending to WebEOC.
There are some very simple steps one can take to prepare for an activation and make life easier during peak WebEOC operational periods.
- Check all wired cable connections and device drivers
Believe it or not, something as small as a printer not working can cause complete havoc in an EOC during an activation. If you perform routine checks on your equipment and devices to verify they are all functioning, you can save yourself from major headaches during stressful times.
Also, knowing how your wired and wireless networks behave could be equally beneficial. Does your wireless network have a client release at a certain time? Any disruption of the wireless network can cause users to be logged off without their knowledge of it.
- Make sure no active antivirus scans are scheduled during heavy traffic times
An active antivirus scan on multiple machines or servers can cause the machines and network to come to a screeching halt. For WebEOC users trying to input multiple entries, nothing can be more frustrating than having to wait several minutes for an entry to save. When antivirus software runs, it tries to download any available updates. Thus, make sure that, before you activate the EOC, your antivirus software is disallowed from scanning at peak operational periods.
- Have someone dedicated to assisting EOC staff with login issues
Most WebEOC Administrators wear multiple hats in an EOC setting. Since many agencies are not able to fund a full-time position for just WebEOC administration, the job is usually delegated to an existing employee.
Of the tasks delegated, one of the most challenging for any administrator is dealing with EOC Staff credentials. Specifically, users may frequently forget the login process, their username or their password. Resetting multiple passwords over and over can become a burden. If you have a dedicated staff member to help with this process, it may free up your time to concentrate on larger issues that may arise.
- Test boards and process flow regularly to make sure info is passing correctly
If you can have users log into WebEOC once a month to test boards, you can eliminate process issues before they happen during an activation. Making sure that info is flowing correctly and that users have permissions to see the boards they need will make activations less stressful.
Ultimately, these routine checks can help identify process holes and make revisions as needed.
There are certain things that can be overlooked within a WebEOC system, and such things can cause lag times during an activation or heavy WebEOC usage periods. Therefore, it is advised to check the following to ensure that your system runs proficiently.
- SQL Database:
Have you checked the size of your database lately?
(Set up a maintenance plan in SQL to manage data growth)
- Have you checked the size of your transaction log lately?
A large transaction log can cause your WebEOC system to become sluggish at times. This is extremely common for WebFusion connections. If you are subscribed to a WebFusion server that is offline, your system will continue pinging it every 30 seconds. This can cause the transaction log to grow rapidly. In the event of an activation, the last thing you want is a slow-moving system.
- Have you checked your network settings?
- Do you know what your users are doing and what they have access to? Unfortunately, users still like to entertain their personal lives during activations. This leads to the question, “Are you blocking social media sites as well as streaming services?” Allowing users to visit these sites can slow the network down, which causes disruptions for all staff using the WebEOC system.
- Are your EOC computers connecting wirelessly? If so, check to see if IT has a release client in place that will disconnect users at a certain time. If a user has remained logged in and the wireless connection was interrupted, WebEOC does not shut down. However, the next time an entry is attempted, the dreaded error screen forces the user to log in again.
Thinking ahead can provide peace of mind for administrators. Being aware of precautions can help prevent obstacles from occurring during times of heavy WebEOC usage. If something does come up, there are many avenues for support. Do not hesitate to call your Client Services Manager or Technical Support in times of need—we are always willing to help you make sure your WebEOC system is running at its full potential.