Department of Transportation (DOT) operations are extremely busy and safety is the number one priority. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if but rather when something will occur.
Therefore, no matter the incident - from a minor flood to a major accident - access to tools that ensure a seamless response is invaluable. Specifically, tools that include the ability to set plans, make checklists, track actions and provide a secure communications medium for staff and outside agencies are essential for a DOT operations manager or emergency management leader.
When looking for a tool to aid DOT daily operations and response, the ETO Report on Integrating Web-based Emergency Management Tools into DOT Operations indicates that basic capabilities should include the ability to:
In addition to managing events, the best return on investment is a tool that can be utilized for daily operations. This tool allows your operations team to continue day-to-day tasks while your response team separately manages each incident.
Your full response team isn’t at the operations center 24/7 and neither is your Emergency Manager. Since emergencies can happen at the most unexpected times, having the ability to manage incidents and gather common operating picture information from any location and device is essential. Tools that can connect everyone regardless of location or mobile devices are the most effective.
The ability to manage systems in one convenient location is also beneficial. Management of video sensors, cameras and other equipment in a collaboration tool means that the operations staff can focus on one system.
Having one-on-one interactions with other responders and agencies is not only vitally important for your preparedness program, but it is also key for the overall success of real-time incidents. With 4 out of the Department’s 12 Operating Administrations having recovery plans that were not in compliance with DOT policy, being able to have the resources available to understand your community or organization’s strengths and weaknesses allows future operations to run smoothly. Furthermore, having the capability of communicating with outside organizations ensures the safety of all.
Managers process a lot of information and make real-time decisions that impact the well-being of civilians and personnel. A tool that puts data in decision-makers’ hands quickly and concisely is invaluable.
Certainly, a number of other factors such as ease of use, configurability and sustainability are important for an emergency management tool as well. For example, a user-friendly system can make all the difference in an effective emergency response by allowing managers to focus on what’s important: saving lives and minimizing the impact of trauma on survivors.
All factors considered, it’s clear that an information management system is vital during an emergency. However, what tool would work best? When considering options, it is wise to think about advanced functionality to get the most from your system. Aside from managing emergencies, can the system also aid in daily operations involving, for example, airport activities and special events? A tool that allows users to manage daily processes in a configurable environment without limiting functionality to emergency response offers users the highest rate of success when the inevitable ‘something’ occurs.