Smart mobile technology on the horizon for Pre-Incident Planning Part I: Emergency pre-plans slow to evolve
Smart mobile technology offers untold opportunities for first responders. Since the rapid evolution and adoption of smart mobile technology, a revolution has occurred in how organizations manage their business: stakeholders interact and communicate regardless of the mobile device, time or place; employees are like a single, unified organization although working remotely in diverse geographic locations; businesses can communicate and collaborate beyond borders; and virtual organizations with true interoperability are now a reality.
The evolution of emergency pre-plans coupled with the evolution of mobile-first technology, represents an opportunity for first responders to leverage the mobile technology revolution—and replace their paper pre-plans with digital, instantly accessible data in the palm of their hands via smartphones and tablets.
Moving beyond instinct and paper pre-plans
For more than 20 years, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1620: Standard for Pre-Incident Planning has been in effect. The 2015 NFPA 1620 Standard outlines the “preplanning process to help protect occupants, response personnel, property, and the environment.” When the NFPA 1620 Standard came into effect in 1998, cities tried but could not comply fully because the technology did not exist to collect even the minimum information required.
During those 20 years, first responders relied on their instinct and sometimes on their paper pre-plans to prepare them for an emergency operation. Today, it is virtually impossible for a first responder to rely on instinct or dated paper pre-plans as building construction, risk, expectations, and so much more, have evolved and heightened the risk of emergency operations.
Smart mobile technology opens up a safer world
Today, smart mobile technology is integral to our daily lives; yet many cities are still using pre-incident plans that only cover part of the NFPA 1620 Standard, and are primarily in paper format. The mere fact of relying on paper pre-incident plans in today’s world of smart mobile technology is not just short-sighted, but dangerous. Emergency response is hampered by preparing, maintaining, reproducing, and accessing plans that for the most part reside in filing cabinets and in community resource databases.
Smart mobile technology opens up a simpler and safer world for first responders. Smart mobile devices are an optimal medium to collect, present, and access pre-incident fire plans. With smartphones and tablets, responders will be better prepared: they will have instant building information en route to an emergency, they will have interoperability between first responder groups, and they will be able to facilitate seamless voice and data communication between emergency responders, heightening the possibility of achieving the NFPA 1710 Standard.
Today, “A picture is worth a 1,000 dispatched words,” and that is only possible with smart mobile technology. So, why is smart technology the only choice?
Simple, it has built-in “baked” capabilities that are instrumental to build and view a pre-plan. Capabilities such as a camera, built-in GPS, text, high-speed wireless connectivity, high capacity processor, and memory—all in a palm size mobility package. Couple this with other technologies, such as high powered servers on the cloud, security, and advanced databases, and first responders will have more technology power in their hands than existed in a 1990s supercomputer.
Smart mobile technology offers the means and the NFPA 1620 Standard defines the content, but it is also essential that the content and presentation of building information on a smart mobile device align with the needs and preferences of first responders. Part II, Integrating what First Responders Want with Smart Mobile Technology, will cover the results of a research project conducted to collect data on firefighters’ preferences.