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Role of ICT staff in emergency response on the rise

Divina Paredes | July 23, 2013
Agencies and local authorities harness social networks to keep people informed

"So technology plays a huge part in this," she says. This information is valuable when the emergency teams are already responding to events, like saving people from collapsing buildings or putting out fires.

Drawing insights from the February 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch, Hong says within the first few hours, NZFS had already received over 900 phone calls. In the next 24 hours, over 400 firefighters, police, and urban search and rescue officers were on the scene, together with the ICTS team.

As CIO, Hong oversaw the IT and emergency radio systems, spatial intelligence programmes, and stressed business as usual work like managing rostering and deployment systems.

Her advice for disaster planning is to make sure the CIO and the IT team communicate regularly with their colleagues before, during and after the crisis.

"Our role is to make sure we communicate with our colleagues. There should hardly be anything going on that we're not aware of," she says.

She says it is not about planning for every eventuality, but being prepared to go out and prioritise the mission critical work.

"When you're designing something you have to look at the bigger picture," says Hong. "Make sure your plan gets your people in a ready mindset to go out there and work on what is most important."

 

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