Federal, state and local emergency management agencies (EMAs) along the mid-Atlantic seaboard are bracing for the arrival Hurricane Florence, which appears to be one of the region’s strongest storms in decades.
The agencies will have a wide range of responsibilities in the coming days and weeks, from directing the evacuation of large populations to assisting with recovery efforts in the aftermath.
One capability EMAs have increasingly relied on in recent years is continuous real-time awareness in the areas most affected by storms and other naturally occurring hazards, combined with a detailed picture of the material and personnel resources they have at their disposal during the response phase and efficient damage reporting to help people more quickly recover after a disaster.
Haystax developed its Constellation for Emergency Management solution to give emergency and law enforcement personnel precisely this kind of comprehensive domain awareness and continuous analytics-based updating during a disaster, regardless of whether they are based in a command center or out in the field.
Among the capabilities of the Constellation systems deployed in cities and states around the US are detailed catalogs of critical assets such as schools, commercial facilities, transport infrastructure and even residences. First responders can instantly access crucial data for each asset in the system, including addresses, site maps, floor plans, photos and phone numbers for key contacts, and much more.
Additionally, field reporting via Constellation’s mobile apps can provide everything from real-time incident and status reports to comprehensive damage assessments for any physical asset, all of it precisely geo-tagged, categorized and annotated for easy aggregation into after-action reports. Moreover, the mobile apps can transmit continuously updated device information, enabling commanders to know the exact locations of their deployed personnel. And although Constellation is deployed in the cloud, its mobile apps function even when offline.
Turning on the Constellation Threat Streams feed to monitor digital media will provide additional data layers for local and regional awareness during a storm, both in dedicated channels within the app (see image below) as well as with geo-tagged graphical and textual information on the Map. Such information can include:
- News-media and police reports from affected areas
- Real-time weather bulletins
- Traffic jam alerts along evacuation routes
- Reports of looting and other storm-related crimes
Most importantly, the combined data from these apps is depicted visually on a satellite or terrain map so that commanders can make faster and more fully-informed decisions — either across broad geographic areas (see image below) or zoomed into a single city block.
Among Haystax’s existing agency deployments:
- The state of Florida has relied on Constellation since 2014 to help protect its 2.5 million students and 6,000-plus public and charter schools
- California has employed the Haystax system for years in numerous real-world events and natural-hazard exercises
- The state of Arizona and metropolitan areas like Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis and Boston all maintain dynamic awareness of man-made and natural hazards via Constellation
Hundreds of dedicated emergency management and public safety personnel will work extremely long hours responding to Hurricane Florence — and to any other storm that may follow during the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through November 30. Their jobs are made easier when their agencies have continuous and comprehensive awareness of the hazard environment during the response and recovery phases.
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John Boatman is Content Development Director at Haystax Technology, a Fishtech Group company.
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