By Tara Gibson - July 8, 2020
COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, shuttering businesses, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and sending Americans home to shelter in place with strict social distancing and hygiene protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. Companies and communities have turned to innovative solutions and have worked together to manufacture and provide resources, such as additional PPE to hospitals and healthcare facilities, and have donated millions to coronavirus relief funds. Meanwhile, state and local governments have been leveraging a critical resource that has assisted in many facets of protecting citizens during this unprecedented time; that resource is data.
Government data is crucial to democracy, civic partnership, citizen services, innovation and government efficiency. GovLoop explains that accessing and managing data is vital to a government’s mission, and we couldn’t agree more. For public safety, data technology tools are extremely beneficial to help streamline government operations and protect communities throughout the pandemic, and beyond.
So, in what ways can data and technology help state and local governments throughout this pandemic?
COVID-19 can be extremely deadly to those who are more at-risk of severe complications if they contract the virus. These vulnerable populations could suffer dire consequences if they are exposed to coronavirus and have any of the below underlying medical conditions provided by the CDC.
With a web-based vulnerable needs registry, residents are encouraged provide their critical data, such as age, location, and preexisting conditions for analysis, planning, and emergency response. With this data, emergency managers can easily identify those who are in need of assistance, communicate efficiently with them, and assign the needed resources to help.
When searching for the right data technology, such as a vulnerable needs registry, state and local officials should look for a solution that provides the above key features but also ensures all data is private, secure, and is stored with the same encryption and security utilized by leading financial institutions and federal agencies.
Watch the below video to see how we've updated our solution to assist in combating COVID-19:
When the pandemic first hit the U.S. back in March, new caller screening processes were introduced for Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and Emergency Medical Dispatch Centers for callers who may have symptoms of coronavirus. Data technology has helped speed up the lengthy screening processes with tools such as vulnerable needs registries and public safety profiles.
Some PSAPs across the U.S. have access to public safety profiles, such as Smart911, which provide crucial information when an individual calls 9-1-1 during an emergency situation. Residents are encouraged to create their personal safety profile and list out important information including existing health conditions, medications they are on, and whether they rely on medical equipment. Operators immediately see these safety profiles when a 9-1-1 call comes in, and can proactively make informed decisions and alert first responders who are arriving on scene.
The opioid crisis has also become a growing concern during the pandemic, and critical data from within public safety profiles can be of great help when addressing a potential drug overdose or opioid related event. Those suffering from substance abuse, or have a family member with an addiction problem, can update information within a public safety profile to include identification of who has drug issues, locations of naloxone kits in the home, and emergency contact information. In the event of a drug overdose, PSAPs can relay the critical information to first responders arriving on scene, which could be the difference between life and death.
Unfortunately, the global pandemic does not let up for natural disasters and other community emergency events. As many have adapted to the era of social distancing, it’s important to keep emergency preparation and response plans in place for other potential emergencies. Data technology can help.
As of this writing, we’re currently in the middle of hurricane season, with concerning predictions of an above average amount of tropical storms and hurricanes ahead. Worries about where communities can evacuate, how evacuation sites can adhere to social distancing standards amid COVID-19, which resources should be prioritized, how PPE will be distributed, and more are additional concerns that come with the territory of a natural disaster.
A vulnerable needs database can provide emergency management teams critical information with web-based mapping tools to identify vulnerable citizens and areas that may be more susceptible to flooding during a hurricane, for example. Emergency managers can create queries based on demographics and locations to single out specific groups or people who may be in need of assistance during a natural disaster or other state or local emergency.
By leveraging data technology tools, state and local governments can have a better view and knowledge of their communities as well as their vulnerable and at-risk residents. Data is a valuable resource, which could potentially save lives during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12, State & Local, Higher Ed, Corporate, and Healthcare, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!
Most states have rapid response units tasked with responding to community outbreaks of COVID-19 and minimizing the...