Emergency Management and the Cloud

Christopher Tozzi, Contributing Editor

November 20, 2012

3 Min Read
Emergency Management and the Cloud

The topics of cloud computing and emergency management rarely come up together in conversation. But in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the northeast a few weeks ago, one vendor, Lauren Innovations, is pushing organizations to consider the advantages of cloud based emergency response solutions — and, especially, its NaviGate information management platform. Could this be the next major trend in the world of the cloud?

When I first read about NaviGate marketing efforts following the recent hurricane, I was a little skeptical that they might simply reflect shameful attempts to profit in the aftermath of a catastrophe that — like the host of similar natural and man made disasters outside the United States that receive less coverage — caused tremendous difficulties, or worse, for millions of people.

But while the timing of the marketing push may be delicate, the central idea does make a lot of sense. As the company observes, disasters like Sandy can present unforeseen disruptions to the execution of even the best-laid emergency response plans by destroying or preventing access to the documents vital to putting those plans into action. All of the investment of time and resources of businesses, educational institutions and other organizations in preparing for events like Sandy are for naught if the plans are unavailable at the crucial moment.

The solution to this dilemma, according to Lauren Innovations, is to move disaster preparedness to the cloud:

Web-based systems can enhance emergency planning in indispensable ways. The technology that is now available makes emergency preparedness plans not just compliant but dynamic and effective. When plans live in a portal-protected cloud environment, they become “live” plans that are ready to work in real-time situations. The benefits of using these cutting edge technologies are priceless.

The company also stresses the convenience of a cloud based solution in allowing organizations to keep vital information, like maps and floor plans, up to date from within a centralized location on the Internet.

Although not designed for disaster management exclusively, the NaviGate information management platform provides a comprehensive solution for storing emergency response information in the cloud and making it accessible to users when they need it.

Beyond the Unexpected

Of course, moving your information to the cloud, while smart, isn’t a complete guarantee against all types of problems. For one, a solution like NaviGate will only work if emergency responders can access the Internet — which wasn’t always the case during Sandy, when electricity and cell networks went down in many affected areas.

Meanwhile, a cloud based emergency plan could also become inaccessible if the servers hosting it stop working, another phenomenon witnessed during the recent hurricance.

Still, leveraging the cloud to help handle the most unexpected scenarios would certainly not hurt, and will undoubtedly be high on the list of many American organizations in the wake of Sandy. They may wish, however, to keep ink and paper versions of their plans on hand as well, just in case the cloud itself ceases to function.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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