Tornadoes and floods. Terror attacks and active shooters. Infrastructure failures, major cybersecurity breaches and public health outbreaks. No one knows when a major emergency is going to strike – but odds are that it will. According to an ICMA report, 76% of local governments have responded to a major disaster in the past 15 years. 

Is your local government agency ready for when a major emergency occurs?

Local government officials are looked upon to lead during a disaster and must be prepared to act quickly, efficiently and empathetically to help their community recover and emerge even stronger. When agencies commit to proper emergency planning through strategic risk assessment and simulation exercises, they are better positioned to respond effectively in a crisis.

How government agencies and officials react during and after a crisis can have a monumental impact on both the outcome and reputation of community leaders. Here are some tips agencies can take into consideration to come out on top when the next crisis hits within their borders:

Identify and prepare vulnerable assets – Infrastructure failures can cause severe disruption and long-term damage. A proper asset management solution can monitor and manage specific infrastructure that is more vulnerable for a major failure, like a bridge collapsing or levee breaking before it happens. Being able to track vulnerabilities and potential for disruptions is key.

Proper planning and simulation –Running crisis simulation exercises can help emergency services test how well they are able to handle an increased volume of calls and responsibilities. When agencies know what to do, they will know what to do. Public safety leaders should ensure their systems are capable of handling the load.

Real-time response – Agencies will most often need to communicate quickly across jurisdictional lines with extreme urgency when a crisis hits. Ensuring CAD-to-CAD interoperability for police, fire and EMS services is a must-have resource for neighboring agencies to communicate the most up-to-date details.

Communicate proactively – Government agencies work tirelessly to avoid worsening the crisis by not communicating effectively, marginalizing news or dismissing the severity of the emergency completely. During a crisis, government agencies risk losing their public’s trust if they mishandle it and must be aware that reputational risks can be just as devastating as operational risks. But it’s important to act promptly, not rashly – don’t confuse speed with accuracy.

Ensure data integrity – Hosting data systems on the cloud will protect an agency’s data in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency where infrastructure is at risk of being permanently damaged.

Power of mobility – Real-world emergencies don’t always happen with a fast internet connection. During a crisis and the following recovery, agencies should utilize the power of mobile apps and tech to streamline efforts in the field offline without any disruption to recovery workflow.

Post-emergency, government agencies should look for ways to improve processes including the way data was captured and managed and how resources were disseminated. It’s important for government leaders to act quickly and as proactively as possible in a crisis to identify the best road to recovery so communities can get back on their feet.