Disaster Recovery and Preparedness: An Introduction for Local Government - White Paper

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At any given time, a local government may need to respond to any number of weather events or, worse yet, a disaster. For many years, communities have relied on local disaster relief plans as a blueprint for preparation and response to a disaster. However, in the wake of unfortunate, large-scale events such as the September 11th attacks and Hurricane Katrina, local governments were forced to re-examine their disaster preparedness plans and, in many cases, re-evaluate the depth and scope of those plans.

With the rapid, ongoing evolution of technology, local governments are now discovering new ways to make positive changes in the way they respond to unexpected emergencies. GIS technology is commonly integrated with asset applications to create a comprehensive understanding of where assets are and how they are connected. Citizen applications now interface directly with an organization’s work management system, allowing citizens to personally report issues as they happen.

More often than not, the aftermath of an emergency or event is defined by the response of public safety personnel. Sewer overflows, downed trees and traffic signals, and impassable roads are just a few of the common things that can seriously affect the safety of responders and citizens alike. That’s why the ability to communicate with the public and respond quickly to compromised assets and infrastructure can potentially mean the difference between an orderly, effective response and one that is chaotic and inefficient.

The majority of communities in the United States have gone to great lengths to ensure that public safety personnel have the tools and equipment to operate quickly and decisively during a disaster or emergency. An essential component of this is a local government’s ability to quickly provide information to the public and all areas of the organization.

Police, fire, EMT, Department of Health, Public Works, water, sewer, waste disposal, financial, recordkeeping – these agencies all need information that is timely and accurate when responding to a rapid response situation. Even during the smallest event — a heavy thunderstorm, for example — there is direct correlation between the safety of citizens and personnel, and the availability of infrastructure-related information.

A streamlined and well-planned response is especially vital in the wake of large-scale events that cause severe damage, but aren’t declared an emergency. In these situations, cleanup responsibilities often fall to the Departments of Public Works. If there is a work and asset management system in place, this department – and many other departments – are more prepared to initiate a response.

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