Emergency operations centers or EOCs are becoming more advanced and functional with each passing year. Temporary trailers are being replaced with new, state-of-the-art permanent facilities that are larger and chocked full of a variety of technological advancements.
What is Driving Development of New Emergency Operations Centers?
According to this article, space constraints seem to be the primary factor driving the increasing number of upgraded EOCs. As climate change continues to wreak havoc on storm severity, more stringent regulations are forcing utilities – especially electric utilities – to deploy more storm workers per storm, including employees from a variety of external agencies.
So you have the double whammy of an increasing number of violent storms as well as a regulatory-mandate to utilize more personnel per storm. And storms are only part of the equation, as emergency operations centers now must handle an expanded list of emergency events compared to just 20 years ago, such as terrorism and cyber-attacks. The result is that the EOCs need to be larger in today’s world compared to the facilities of yesteryear. Otherwise, bottlenecks can occur that reduce employees’ ability to work together in an efficient and effective manner.
Of course, while size DOES matter, so too does technology. Modern emergency operations centers have dozens or hundreds or individual computer monitors, all connected to things like “smart walls,” which are basically huge screens that show real time information in a multi-screened or tiled interface.
Another advancement is the integration and utilization of public video sources such as traffic cameras to provide real time assessment data. Dozens of video feeds can come into the smart wall to provide environmental intelligence. Other emerging advancements include the utilization of drone video, geocoding to distribute messages only to citizens in effected areas, and enhanced integration of social media communication channels.
There is little doubt that these are not your father’s emergency operations centers. Like the Bionic Man, they are bigger, stronger and faster. And that is exactly how they need to be in this day and age.