Technology in Emergency Management has evolved over the years. From using simple paper to document large scale events to web-based software with real-time links to
responders in the field. The field of Emergency Management is ever changing and technology is one of the drivers behind this change. The days of solely relying on the
mainstream media to deliver a story or warning is starting to fade away with the implementation of social media and smart phone applications. In the moments which
followed the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, Boston Police Department Commissioner Edward Davis started alerting the public of the incident via Twitter and Facebook.
Before long, the media was realizing the most accurate information about the incident was coming from the Department���s Twitter account (Newcombe, 2014, para. 2). This
close to real-time information quelled a large amount of rumors, assisted in keeping the public safe and informed as well as providing the media with the official
story.
Cutting edge technology is also being used at the City of Palm Beach Gardens Emergency Operations Communications Center (EOCC). On Thursday, September 29, 2016 I
interviewed Palm Beach Gardens Emergency Manager David Reyes about the technology used in the EOCC. Reyes informed me the EOCC uses WebEOC as well as their own self
developed system to plan, track and manage incidents in the city. According to Reyes, WebEOC is used for communications and coordination with the Palm Beach County
EOC. While WebEOC is a good program, the City���s Technology Department created their own program which integrates with the City���s Geographic Information System (GIS).
This allows for better incident tracking, response efforts and creating documentation to aid in creating reimbursement documentation for Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA). Reyes has also taken an innovative approach by limiting the use of some technology in the EOCC. According to Reyes, in the past each department would
correspond with the other via email, even though they both were in a medium size room and could see each other. Reyes explained he encourages representatives step away
from the email and walk to the person they need to correspond with. These face-to-face communications have improved communications by eliminating the guess work of
interpreting content of emails. All incidents and requests are still documented and FEMA 215 forms are accurately able to be completed. Reyes also uses the City���s
Facebook, Twitter and reverse 9-1-1 systems to relay information to residents in a timely manner.
Reyes stressed the importance of actual face-to-face communications inside the EOCC when possible as it has improved the accuracy of reporting and improved the efforts
of responders.
References:
Newcombe, T. (2014, September 24). Social Media: Big Lessons from the Boston Marathon Bombing. Government Technology. Retrieved from http://www.govtech.com/public-
safety/Social-Media-Big-Lessons-from-the-Boston-Marathon-Bombing.html
David Reyes, Director Public Services & Emergency Management, 561-804-7015 ��� Email: DReyes@PBGFL.COM

 

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