From emergency response to resilience with real time video

Real-time video communications are quickly becoming an important part of emergency response

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From emergency response to resilience with real time video Grayley: Real-time video and audio communicationsare having a positive impact on all parts of emergency preparation and response.
By  Andrew Graley Published  February 22, 2016

Governments around the world today are faced with more types of emergencies and situations to deal with than even before — natural disasters, health hazards and border control.

In the Middle East, the UAE government is leading the way in using the latest communications and video technologies to ensure the safety and welfare of its residents. Public safety and security agencies along with fire and health departments’ emergency and tactical response teams have been tasked to provide an ever-widening array of services, while simultaneously reducing operating costs and improving cross-agency collaboration. To respond to these requirements, they have invested in technologies such as video conferencing and streaming to address such challenges.

Today, law enforcement, health and emergency services, fire and rescue, paramilitary forces highly depend on such real-time audio and video communications tools at all stages of the emergency management process.

Preparedness

Risk mitigation, awareness and training programs are necessary to making sure responders and citizens alike are better prepared and know how to react in any situation. Video conferencing and streaming technologies are used to host daily briefings and meetings at a distance, discuss emergency plans, and educate staff and citizen with video-based learning and communications. It allows emergency teams to stay updated on the latest tools, techniques and procedures. This type of staff training, emergency planning meetings as well as briefings and debriefings, can be done at a distance, using video collaboration and/or immersive telepresence solutions. These measures save time and costs, improve knowledge transfer and retention resulting in higher levels of preparedness for responders and citizens.

Detection

Video surveillance allows the monitor and capture of any event or situation taking place simply by using stationary security cameras, in-vehicle cameras, wearable cameras as well as smart phone cameras. In the near future, emergency calls to dispatch centres will be made using video calling and other multi-media technologies. Citizens will be able to notify authorities about any crime or emergency in action. Law enforcement personnel will be able to see and determine, from a distance, if an intruder or suspect is armed. Emergency operators handling a fire call can see the precise location of a blaze to better direct firefighters and potentially save crucial seconds. Citizens who lack the ability to speak can still make the nature of their emergency known, by showing operators what is happening using their phone-cams. Streaming video will also be linked with GPS coordinates to help responders locate victims or offenders.

Response

Is a fire that has been called in merely a brush fire, or is it a chemical fire? What other types of agencies need to be called in to assist? Those who are equipped with the most up-to-date and detailed information are able to collaborate in a unified manner with others involved, to respond more effectively. Mobile video collaboration and immersive telepresence solutions help everyone involved better understand an emergency situation while it is happening. When both time and accurate information are of the essence, video collaboration is a mission-critical tool to handling any crisis effectively. Emergency responders who can see for themselves what is happening — even if they aren’t physically present — are better armed with knowledge than those who are reporting from other sources. They can achieve situational awareness, which allows them to better plan and respond swiftly.

Recovery

After an emergency, initial care and early triage can benefit from accurate communication in the field. It is made possible when all volunteers and professionals involved can collaborate in real time via video. Valuable evidence can be collected and preserved through video, which can help determine the cause of a crisis, methods for its possible prevention and ways to improve future response. Government officials armed with real-time information can better coordinate an ongoing response to any disaster or public security situation. This includes transporting victims to avail­able medical service providers, arranging for the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure or coordinating the re-establishment of public works. In the event of a lengthy pandemic or other major disaster, governments deploy video conferencing technology at all levels of their organisation to ensure Continuity of Operations or and provide essential services to communities in affected areas.

Natural and man-made disasters will not go away any time soon. Government agencies need to arm themselves with the right technology to be better prepared, detect, respond and recover from any situation more efficiently than ever before. Video conferencing and video content management solutions have been widely recognised by world-class emergency services teams, and are making a critical difference today in managing emergencies and saving lives.

Andrew Graley is EMEA Director of Healthcare, Education & Government at Polycom.

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