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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.

How will the solutions be used during an emergency as well as in preparations for an imminent emergency situation?

There are four distinct stages in an emergency management workflow, and collaboration solutions can play a critical role in all of them.

1.    Readiness Stage
Risk mitigation and preparedness is the first stage in emergency management, making sure responders are able to react to any situation. This can include daily briefings and meetings, emergency planning, and other types of internal and external communication.

In addition, emergency staff needs to be trained in the latest tools, techniques and procedures. This type of staff training — as well as planning conferences and meetings — can be handled at a distance, using video conferencing and video immersive telepresence solutions.

Conducting training via video has several advantages, including the standardisation of training, the ability to record and archive lessons for later playback and self-learning. There are also significant cost savings to be made, attributable to requiring a reduce number of trainers, reduced physical training locations and saving on travel time and cost.

2.    Detection and Early Warning Stage
Video monitoring and surveillance takes place using stationary security cameras as well as via mobile camera applications. In the near future, 911 and other types of emergency calls will be made using video and other multi-media technologies.

This type of visual next-generation emergency service (visual NG911) calling is already being tested in the United States. Many 911 centres are being equipped with broadband-capable lines, while at the same time an increasing number of citizens use smartphones with video cameras and are able to transmit real-time video. Once visual emergency calling is enabled, a citizen will be able to notify authorities about crimes and other emergencies in action.

Law enforcement will be able to see – in real time – an intruder, and determine if he or she is armed. Emergency operators handling a fire call can see the precise location of a blaze to better direct firefighters and potentially save crucial seconds. Citizens who lack the ability to speak can still make the nature of their emergency known by showing operators what is happening using their phone-cams. Streaming video will also be linked with GPS coordinates to help responders locate victims or offenders.

3.    Analysis and Incident Response Stage
Those who are equipped with the most up-to-date and detailed information, and are able to collaborate in a unified manner with others involved — so that everyone is on the same page — are better able to respond effectively. Is a fire that has been called in merely a bush fire or is it a chemical fire? Is the damage from an earthquake minor or major? What other types of agencies need to be called in to assist? Which agencies will do what? How will the emergency response be coordinated?


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