Last month, I had the opportunity to speak with PoliceOne about how Cisco solutions are helping to improve public safety in an area most people aren’t aware of: emergency operations centers. Emergency operations centers, or EOCs, are the center of disaster response efforts, helping to coordinate the first responders and distribute information to decision-makers in a chaotic emergency situation. EOCs facilitate communication across agencies to allow for coordinated efforts. And in an emergency situation, which is hectic and can be confusing, the clear communication and up-to-date information an EOC providers is vital to helping mitigate the disaster.

Since speed, accuracy and collaboration are all crucial to an EOC’s mission, the centers are constantly investing in new technologies to help them improve in these areas. In more recent years, one of the most effective collaboration technologies EOCs have harnesses is video. Why video? Video improves data gathering, which leads to more increased situational awareness, which ultimately allows for a more coordinated response.

The types of video systems vary. Digital signage, for one example, can be used to display information such as television streams, maps or graphs on a large screen visible by all in the EOC. This type of video system also can function as a display for group videoconference that allows agencies on the local, state and federal level to coordinate quickly and clearly.

A video collaboration tool like Cisco WebEx enables users to share the information on their computer screen while engaging in desktop-quality video chat, and Cisco TelePresence allows for high-quality online face-to-face conferencing. Using these technologies helps build relationships and ensure communication is clearer, as body language can be interpreted and expressions shared.

Another form of video technology being harnessed by EOCs to provider better information to officers and agents in the field is IP video surveillance. IP-based systems provide higher quality than traditional analog CCTV systems; they also allow you to view the video on multiple types of devices simultaneously, giving everyone access to the same information.

As you can see from these examples above, there are so many different ways video collaboration tools are helping the EOC better serve law enforcement and first responders in a disaster situation. By allowing officers and agents to communicate easily across agencies and giving them the ability to view and share information, video solutions enable first responders to make the smartest decisions and develop the most efficient response strategies to any kind of emergency.

So while I’ve talked a lot about how the police are harnessing connected solutions in my previous Public Safety Series blog posts, an EOC is arguably the most important place video solutions can be utilized. Increasing safety, situational awareness, and intelligence in an emergency situation helps protect communities across the country, and video is the key to achieving that.

To read more about how EOCs are harnessing the power of video technology, click here to read the full article over at PoliceOne. Plus, I’ll be further discussing how public safety agencies like EOCs are leveraging new technology at the IACP Annual Conference this weekend. I hope to see some of you there!


Bob Stanberry

Senior Law Enforcement Advisor