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Proposed ASEAN disaster response centre in Singapore could benefit from UCC tools

Zafirah Salim | May 26, 2014
Videoconferencing solutions enable government agency representatives and citizens to communicate and be informed, especially during times of emergency.

Polycom video collaboration

The recent spate of natural disasters such as last year’s Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines and Sichuan earthquake in China, has prompted the urgent need of a crisis centre.

Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has offered the Changi Command and Control (C2) Centre to host a regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) coordination centre to help respond speedily and effectively to a disaster situation.  

This offer was made at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-US Defence Ministers’ informal meeting held in early April; and it received support by the ministers.

It is possible that the proposed HADR would leverage video collaboration solutions which provide lifelike, interactive communication between teams that are often separated by distance. The adoption of this technology will allow organisations to rapidly respond to emergency situations and share field visuals with government officials located in situation rooms or command and control centres.

Computerworld Singapore spoke to Alphonzo Albright, Global Director, Government: National, State and Local Solutions and Market Development, Worldwide, Polycom to learn more about its videoconferencing solution and how it assists in disaster relief efforts.

How are communication lines and relief efforts augmented through the use of video collaboration solutions; and what are the benefits of implementing these solutions?

The benefits of video conferencing and video content management are already widely recognised by world-class emergency services teams. These proven technologies enable personnel to augment preparations for a disaster, to quickly assess situations via visual feeds and to securely communicate face-to-face in any environment, whether from an offsite command centre or in the field, thus helping to ensure rapid and informed decision-making for greater mission success.

Accurate planning, design and implementation of unified collaboration and communication (UCC) systems help enable a rapid, uninterrupted flow of information between government officials and the outside world. The command centre is able to seamlessly handle the sharing of intelligence from a multitude of sources, and allow officials to review multiple video feeds as well as process large amounts of information in an organised manner.

Multiple agencies are also able to achieve high levels of interoperability through the usage of video collaboration solutions without having to sacrifice existing infrastructure. When an emergency strikes, video links can be created between various agencies. An ongoing video feed from the disaster site or location itself can be shared seamlessly thus allowing experts from various agencies to analyse the data simultaneously and make appropriate suggestions and employ proper counter measures and responses. This means agencies have greater awareness of what other agencies are doing and would also speed up response times significantly.

This is opposed to the method of old where, first responders on the ground would have to phone in and describe the situation to one agency which would then have to relay that information to other organisations. To make matters worse, as experts not on the ground would only have a verbal description of the situation. This, of course, may not be entirely accurate and the decided-upon course of action may not be appropriate, thus slowing down and reducing the effectiveness of relief efforts.


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