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Telepresence Primed to Optimize Multijurisdictional Emergency Response

August 15, 2011
at 5:13 am PST

When emergency strikes, people want answers. What’s going on, what is the safety threat, and perhaps most importantly, who’s in charge?

That last question can lead to some complicated answers when an incident occurs under multiple law enforcement jurisdictions. For example, take the pipe bomb scare in March 2010 at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. As Corey McKenna of Emergency Management explains, several units responded—campus police, a regional bomb squad, and the local police and fire departments—but these units did not have much history of working together. A fair bit of miscommunication and chaos ensued.

Thankfully, the above scenario proved to be nothing more than a suspicious empty suitcase. But the confusion among responding parties characterizes emergency response all too often. McKenna reports that problems with multijurisdictional response include “time and grind”—hammering out the details without the guidance of capable leadership—and “relationships”—knowing the people with whom you’re working.

I don’t imagine agents and officers of different law enforcement entities have time to chat over lunch to get to know each other. But making time to discuss leadership protocols in the event of emergencies is a critical safety measure that has an impact on the entire surrounding community. What better way to facilitate this connection than through telepresence?

With telepresence, units in multiple locations can communicate at the click of a button. They can meet to set policies and procedures without leaving home base, without risking being unavailable for an urgent call. They can also quickly and efficiently share evidence through high-definition, crystal clear screen images. And, in the midst of responding to a situation, they can quickly communicate any progress they make.

This week at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Customer & Industry Forum 2011 we’re looking at the issue of multijurisdictional response in the context of the Department of Defense. Speakers and participants are sharing best practices for exchanging critical command and control information as well as building enterprise infrastructure. We’re especially excited to hear the panel on Communications in Disasters, focused on ensuring interoperability of disaster relief communication systems. Perhaps there are new ways telepresence can help?

If you’re at the conference too, please come say hello!
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