10 Roles of Information Technology in Emergency Preparedness and Prevention

Advancements in technology aren’t exclusively created for convenience. Many technological advancements are designed to improve the way large-scale emergencies are handled. Technology plays a key role in the prevention, preparation, and management of emergencies.

 

Communication, data analysis, and security are of the utmost importance when it comes to dealing with emergency preparedness and prevention, and technology is a prime part of these solutions. Find out more about how these 10 important information technology resources play a big role in dealing with emergencies.

 

1. Technology Preparedness as a Priority

 

Before the technology can help in an emergency, it must have its own preparedness plan to survive a disaster. Business owners are encouraged to develop an IT disaster recovery plan so they can protect, access, and restore their technology.

 

In addition to a business continuity plan, businesses should know how to restore phone lines, computer networks, and servers if a disaster occurs. For example, if a business stores its data on a cloud, it’s important that critical employees know how to access this data. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) of the network and cloud make it easy for IT staff and employees to gain access to this data and keep it safe from unauthorized users in the event of an emergency. This becomes even more valuable when a workforce comprises remote workers who may need to resume operations without returning to the office.

 

2. Broadcast of PSAs

 

Communication from government officials to the public is crucial during an emergency. Important notices and information must be communicated to all outlets immediately so the public has time to prepare and react.

 

Federal and local governments use many technologies to keep open lines of communication, including social media and other online channels. For example, if a community is facing a tornado or other bad weather, a public service announcement (PSA) may be sent out from the government office on social media, by email, or through smartphone alerts.

 

3. Coordinating Response Teams and Evacuation Efforts

 

Within the facets of government itself, communication must also be coordinated. The armed forces, emergency response teams, and officials at the local, state, and federal levels use technology to ensure they have lines of communication open, especially at the time of an emergency.

 

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is one example of technology that’s used to effectively communicate and plan. This systematic approach to emergencies ensures that all officials know their roles and responsibilities. The system allows these officials and branches of government to communicate so they can form a unified and effective response to a disaster or emergency.

 

4. Creating Predictive Models

 

Technology helps to create predictive models, which can be used to better understand how an emergency or disaster will impact the area. By understanding and viewing the prediction, it’s easier for government officials to create an effective plan of action that addresses the concerns that the predictive model brings to light.

 

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, predictive models showed how the virus was expected to spread across the world. It influenced the restrictions local officials placed on their communities to help stop the spread. Seeing how technology changed these predictive models helped inspire residents to follow the official’s orders and take the pandemic seriously.

 

5. GPS and GIS Applications

 

Location tracking is another important aspect of emergency and disaster management and response. A global positioning system (GPS) is a location-tracking system that uses satellites to assist with navigation. The general public uses GPS systems to navigate and both state and local governments also use these applications to assist in emergencies.

 

A geographic information system (GIS) is similar to a GPS system because it uses satellites to provide location information but this technology can provide different details. GIS systems allow the user to track, store, check, and capture data that relates to global positionings, such as streets, vegetation, elevation, or buildings.

 

Local and state governments use these systems to understand the patterns and relationships between these aspects and the environment. This allows them to monitor the status of a crisis and how it’s affecting local areas.

 

6. Managing Hospitals

 

Hospitals already have intricate communication and coordination systems that allow them to operate under stressful circumstances. When an emergency or disaster occurs, a single hospital uses technology to communicate with other local hospitals. This network of hospitals must work together to share supplies and assist patients. By spreading out resources to other hospitals (both in and out of state) and creating a plan together, more patients are treated quickly and successfully.

 

One example of managing hospitals through technology is after a mass shooting. Hospitals must prepare for the influx of wounded patients and act accordingly. By staying in close communication with other local hospitals, caregivers can quickly create a plan for the swift treatment of the victims.

 

7. Publicly-Sourced Information

 

Technology allows the public to share stories with each other through social media. These stories are invaluable during an emergency or disaster. When people who are experiencing the situation firsthand relay their experience online to the general public, it provides other people with valuable insight.

 

For example, if a person shares a short video about how fire has ravaged their neighborhood, a viewer in a nearby community is more likely to take the disaster seriously. After seeing how serious the disaster is, the viewer is more likely to prepare their home and follow government officials’ orders to evacuate. Communication between the public through technology provides insight into what’s happening on the front lines so they can better prepare themselves and take the emergency seriously.

 

8. Resource Allocation

 

Knowing where and how resources are being allocated is one of the most important aspects of emergency management. With advancements in technology, government officials and department heads can more easily communicate with each other about the resources they have and what they need.

 

When shortages, overages, and communities’ various needs are easily communicated, resources can be moved to where they’re most needed, saving lives and helping to restore areas more quickly. For example, after a hurricane hits an area, the officials use technology to communicate the area’s needs, such as bottled water and food. Other local governments can band together and provide this area with the supplies it needs.

 

9. Scenario Simulation

 

Preparing for emergencies before they occur helps to ensure the plan of action is achievable and actionable. With technological advancements, emergency operatives can use virtual reality (VR) training programs to prepare for large-scale emergencies. By confronting these stressful and unpredictable situations through VR, operatives feel more prepared, experienced, and ready to tackle these situations when they occur in real life.

 

10. Weather Forecasting

 

Accurate weather forecasting gives the public time to prepare for an oncoming natural disaster. Tornadoes, hurricanes, hail, and other inclement weather can wreak havoc on an area. With the technology and data analysis involved in weather forecasting, the public can be warned, sometimes weeks in advance, about upcoming weather-related disasters. This gives them time to prepare their homes and evacuate.

 

It’s important to have a disaster plan in place for your business’s technology, especially one that includes the best cybersecurity practices to ensure your data remains safe. A managed services provider (MSP) may be a useful resource when attempting to create a solid emergency plan for your business, as well as providing continuity services should disaster actually strike.

 

When MSP software is implemented, you may gain access to your data and business-related technology from anywhere. In an emergency, this access is crucial. Technology is an important component of emergency preparedness but doesn’t forget to prepare your technology for potential disasters as well.

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