The Role of Government Transparency in Public Emergency Response
Sunshine Week occurs each year in mid-March, coinciding with James Madison’s birthday and National Freedom of Information Day on the 16th. Laserfiche is once again supporting this national initiative to highlight the importance of a well-informed public. ‘Transparency’ cultivates public trust and reinvigorates the soul of democracy, but it also plays a critical role in public safety. In this post, we offer a pragmatic perspective of the role transparency plays in public agency operations, particularly in emergency management and incident response.
Accounting for Public Safety
Public agencies are naturally accountable for public safety. Effective emergency management requires security officers work closely with multi-disciplinary teams in developing and executing funding and response plans. Producing shelter-in-place and communication plans for a public facility like the Port of Long Beach, where $180 billion worth of cargo moves across 3,000 acres, is a huge task and demands collaboration. The key to any good response plan is proactive communication and public notification.
Developing an Action Plan
Incident Management teams must prepare before, during, and following a crisis event. This requires teams to collaborate on external-facing publications that require multiple inputs and layers of approval. Contributors are often located across multiple geographic locations, with and without dedicated access to the Internet.
Using the Right Technology Tools
Good response teams train regularly and focus on becoming more efficient, seeking out tools that augment their own capabilities.
The best teams require the following:
- Simultaneous editing and collaborating with version control
- User environment that’s accessible in any geographic area
- Ability to control access to documents and repository
- Public-facing web portal for immediate information broadcast to media and the public
- Tools for analyzing performance in preparation for the next incident
Laserfiche empowers emergency management teams to amplify their response capability and dramatically reduce the time in which it takes an agency to notify the regional population. Public Information Officers can immediately begin drafting notifications as first responders provide on-the-ground incident information, while team commanders get real-time performance intelligence and the ability to approve and publish notifications from the field or office to give emergency channels accurate and timely access to life-saving information.
Providing media channels and the public with a dedicated site is an effective strategy for addressing a sudden influx of incident-based records requests. Creating a secure, public-facing web portal enables Public Information Officers to manage requests for information, version control and distribution. Laserfiche simplifies the work effort around team collaboration and public notification, allowing emergency management teams more time to focus on the emergency.
These same tools that maintain streamlined government operations may also be utilized to proactively inform the public in times when accurate information is critical in promoting regional public safety. In both proactive and reactive circumstances, Laserfiche provides government agencies the tools necessary to inform the public in a safe, timely and effective manner.