Rethinking Incident Management and Empowering First Responders

Effectively informing first responders can be challenging. Fortunately there are new technologies that are advancing response time and the efficacy of incident management

It is now time to address a traditional gap in incident management workflow and expectations among security customers and first responders.

While for decades industrious civil servants have worked tirelessly to shore up their response toolset, the rapid evolution and complexity of today’s front-page events plus social media have bypassed traditional technology solution packages.

First responders should not have to arrive at a given scene armed with just minimal intel and fervency. Current generation technology allows for rapid connectivity to pinpoint security systems onsite, such as radio, sensors and precious video feeds without compromising a customer’s cybersecurity and privacy.

In recent years, forensic documentation of active shooter, force majeure and high-exposure public events have shown a discrepancy in how local responders collaborate and benefit from a larger organizational effort.

In larger events, major agencies or groups with better resources may have acted as the rally point for intel and communications. However, today’s technology allows for advances on numerous fronts to feed critical information to experts and responders as they arrive and as they continue to proceed through the incident.

Technology Challenges

Delayed Expert Eyes on Target
Often, only key individuals can access video and radio from on-site. Typically, these folks are in a security operations center and data is further conveyed verbally via phone or radio.

Delayed Intel
First responders are often dealing with screenshots or third-hand verbal descriptions coming from their public safety answering point (PSAP). Forensic examinations of numerous incidents show an explosion of unfiltered data arriving via 911 emergency calls and social media — often adding costly minutes to medical response and endangering first responders.

Lack of Clarity on Authorized Personnel
Identifying plain-clothed and off-duty officers and medical experts responding is problematic. In recent airport security incidents and large-scale FEMA responses, numerous capable volunteers appeared at the command center to help. This swell of unverified crowds ties up bandwidth to confirm sworn officers via phone calls.

Data Dissemination
Critical response senior management remains relegated to social media and spotty updates from onsite, delaying crucial decisions and release of resources.

A federal level liaison asked after the Sandy Hook event how to get active intel from inside the facility to key subject matter experts and first responders before or as they arrive. At the time, numerous designs for edge command stations emerged, but they lacked the scalability and simplicity that is so precious during high-stress events.

Additionally, a six-agency SWAT practice exercise at a Fortune 50 company HQ illuminated many of the micro-fractures in these events that are simply navigated by the pure talent of our first responder captains.

In these recent exercises, a multiagency command post was set up via dedicated cellular within minutes using the Mutualink Cloud platform and allowed teams to have live camera views down to a tactical unit level. Moreover, commanders were able to see their own teams as they progressed through the venue to advise on locations, coverage and situational developments.

All communications were bridged over four disparate radio brands as well as mobile apps. Invite-only logins ensured that the communications were secured and authorized as floor plans and additional information were pushed out to teams.

“We’d never been able to actually see what was happening within the buildings after our teams went in,” one commander said.

In VIP or major sporting events, interagency coordination can benefit immediately from onsite mobile video streaming in the hands of an invited agent, as well as from multiple live feeds of video from different brands of VMS across sites.

The FEDRAMP-certified Cloud engine can ingest authorized video feeds (drone, aerial, traffic, static security cameras, mobile streaming, etc.) as well as radio channels and publish them to meeting groups organized by the event manager. Once the event has completed, the incident manager closes the session and all sharing is removed.

The ability to send an email to a subject matter expert or first responder en route, have them click the link and be immediately invited via mobile, tablet or laptop to the shared session is a radical leap forward in reducing time-to-intel ratios during major incidents.

Additional group sessions can be organized by incident management to provide private updates to leadership or media.

The challenge before the security community now is to provide solvent, tested solutions to the public that can truly leverage advances in rapid response and efficacy of incident management.

Reaching out to the first responder community to ensure a connected mission between incident management, technology and agencies bolsters our collective response to today’s headlines.

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About the Author


Lance Holloway is Director Vertical Technology for Stanley Security.

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