Communication and technology in response operations


The usage of communication and technology plays an important role in the effectiveness of response operations. The efficiency of communication in such scenario usually determine the manner and the time in which an emergency scenario will be reported, which is significant in making a difference between cases of life and death. Technology offers a framework through which there is effective delivery of information in an accurate and timely manner to the personnel responsible for responding to emergency cases (Coppola, 2011). This is due to the fact that most of the communications that occur during cases of emergency are critical, posing the need for the communication methodology to be timely and precise. The key elements that make up an emergency response communication system include the 911 telephone processing, the emergency alert system and the Radio, broadcast and the news and updates provided by the television. The veracious elements have to function appropriately in order realize an effective communication during a response operation. This paper discusses how the three main components are part of the strategy in the strategy to communicate situation awareness during disaster operations, how the media can help in pre-disaster and during disaster communications to the general public. In addition, the paper also provides an analysis of the three elements of emergency communications and the importance of those elements. The paper concludes by highlighting how technology can be deployed in order to improve disaster response.

Situation awareness is a two communication between the public and the emergency operations personnel. The three main components, which are the 911 telephone call, the emergency alert system and radio, broadcast and television stations, are part of the strategy in fostering the two communications during emergency scenario. The 911 telephone call provides a framework for reporting emergency cases by the members of the public. In addition, it also serves as situation awareness for the emergency operations team, thereby facilitating the deployment of appropriate response strategies. The emergency alert system and the 911 telephone calls can be said to provide a framework for alert and warning to both the members of the public and the emergency response team during cases of disaster (Federal Communications Commission – Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, 2009). The broadcasts, radio and television plays an important role in monitoring and informing the public of the progress of disaster response. In addition, they are an avenue through which the emergency response operations team can be informed of a potential disaster or an already incurring disaster that the public has not managed to report appropriately. Therefore, it is arguably evident that the three main components are integral in fostering a two way communication, which a significant requirement in the creation of situation awareness during disaster operations (Coppola, 2011).

The media also plays an important role during in communication prior disasters and informing the public appropriate strategies to be undertaken during incidences of disasters. With this regard, the media has a prime role in relaying clear and precise information to members of the public during disaster incidences. The media must relay official emergency broadcasts and provide information relating to what happened, the location of the disaster, the people that are most likely to be affected the disaster, the activities that are currently being done in order to combat the disaster, and inform the public on areas that are potential safe for them to seek refuge. The principal argument is that the media must educate the members of the public concerning a looming disaster, offer warning hazards, and liaise with the various government officials and relief organizations concerning the development of the disaster. In addition, the media must facilitate discussions concerning the preparedness and response strategies for the disaster. Therefore, the media must offer a timely, precise and sensitive information during disasters in order to enhance public understanding of the disaster, and empower the members of the public to take appropriate strategies for the own protection against the imminent dangers of the public (Federal Communications Commission – Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, 2009).

The three primary elements of emergency communications include operability, interoperability and continuity of communications. These three elements provide a framework through which emergency responders can communicate effectively and in a real-time manner in order to enhance the efficiency of the emergency response operation. Rescue operations normally fail due to lack of effective communication between the emergency responses teams, implying that response strategies should be keen on deploying the three core elements of emergency operations communication. Typical examples include during Hurricane Katrina, September 11 attacks and the Air Florida crash. Lack of effective communication implies that the functionalities of the various entities involved in disaster operations will be significantly impaired. This is primarily due to lack of coordinated communication platforms. Operability implies that the emergency response teams have the ability to establish and maintain communications during disaster operations in. This is vital in overcoming the challenge associated with lack of communication during cases of disasters (Coppola, 2011). Interoperability implies that the emergency response team can communicate with the various jurisdictions and the various levels of government as required. This plays a significant role in ensuring that the involved agencies undertake their responsibilities as required during emergency response. Continuity of communications can be looked from the perspective of a back up of a communication system in case the primary communication platform has been destroyed. Continuity of communication plays a significant role in monitoring the progress of disaster operations, and ensures that the emergency response operation is successful. Communications challenges faced during disaster operations can range from lack of authorization, protocol issues and lack of appropriate communication infrastructure. In addition, decision making is always a significant issue if concern during instances of disasters (Coppola, 2011).

The communication between the state and local emergency managers is vital during cases of disasters. As such, this kind of communication is only provided by the three elements of emergency communications, in the sense they foster effective decision making and can be used in over riding of protocols during such cases. Situational awareness is important during an emergency operation because it facilitates the deployment of appropriate response strategies and monitoring the progress of disaster response. Situational awareness can also be used in the deployment of necessary pre-disaster steps so as to help the public from the devastating effects associated with the disaster occurrence. The media can be an effectively tool that the emergency managers can use in order to facilitate situational awareness by providing updated information regarding the progress of disaster operations and informing the public of the practical steps that they can use in order to seek refuge from the disaster (Coppola, 2011).

Technology plays an important role in disaster management; a significant role of such an approach is providing a framework for identification of potential disaster. Technology has facilitated the prediction of most of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. This makes it easy for deployment of appropriate mitigation strategies in helping to manage the disaster.

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