The modernization of communication technologies has trickled down to the frameworks of emergency management. On July 29, 2014, the 'White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day” brought together the disaster response community and innovative entrepreneurs from across the country in the hopes of integrating technological advances with preparedness and disaster response efforts.
As the connectivity of the world increases, EHS programs and emergency managers are embracing collaborative and innovative preparedness and response initiatives. However, in order to germinate or sustain an ongoing culture of preparedness, companies must prioritize funding to incorporate new and relevant systems, training, and/or equipment. Unless mandated by regulatory authorities, many companies delay best practice and technological initiatives until an incident propels response planning to the forefront.
According to the Disaster Recovery Planning Benchmark Survey: 2014 Annual Report, “more than 60% of those who took the survey do not have a fully documented disaster recovery (DR) plan and another 40% admitted that the DR plan they currently have did not prove very useful when it was called on to respond to their worst disaster recovery event or scenario.
As the “Y” or the “Millennial” generation” (those born between 1980’s and 2000) continues to enter the workforce, emerging technologies will become more ingrained into society and the workplace. These educated and tech savvy individuals accustomed to fast-paced technological advancements consider technology as an essential aspect in their lives. Based on current trends, upcoming generations will be acclimated to instantaneous communication and data extraction from any location. Text, social media, and web-based technologies will be expected as commonplace emergency management frameworks, rather than the traditional means that most companies still utilize today. In order to integrate societal norms and stay relevant with upcoming generations of employees, emergency management and disaster response framework must be aligned with currently available utilized tools.
“Statistics suggest that every dollar invested in disaster preparedness yields savings of $4–$11 in disaster response, relief, and recovery.” The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
Just as computers replaced typewriters to expand productivity, web-based response systems are replacing one-dimensional paper-based plans. Web-based response systems offer a greater streamlined functionality, renovated efficiency, and varied accessibility when compared with traditional paper-based plans. Web-based planning system software offers every option of instant accessibility: viewed via the Internet from any location, downloaded, or printed. Increasing accessibility options while improving efficiency, functionality, and effectiveness can bolster an entire emergency management program.
In order for new functionalities to be introduced to the workplace, emergency managers often are required to justify the initial investment. A cost-benefit analysis of a renovated emergency management program can highlight the potential cost savings of an effective program. Any prevention, mitigation, or plan maintenance costs should be compared with the financial impact of situational recovery processes and the overall costs of an incident. These costs may include, but are not limited to:
- Human life
- Short term or long term business interruption
- Infrastructure damage
- Equipment failure
- Inventory/stock losses
- Environmental destruction
The relevance of innovative techniques and lessons learned should be continually evaluated and incorporated into an emergency preparedness program if appropriate. While often suppressed in favor of short-term profits, budgets for pertinent emergency management initiatives should be prioritized for long-term corporate sustainability. But “change for change’s sake” does not typically enhance programs. The evolution process of an emergency management program should aim to perpetuate improved responses and operational recovery times, and enhance company viability despite crisis scenarios.
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