Last updated: November 4th, 2020
Having situational awareness has been a core principal of the intelligence community (IC) for some time. With situational awareness of the environment they are tasked to understand, IC professionals can begin to comprehend the impacts of changes to that environment and even project possible outcomes for improved strategic decision-making.
Historically, gaining situational awareness and projecting outcomes has been a manual and often labor-intensive task requiring large teams of analysts, and therefore it has been relegated to use cases with large budget allocations, such as protecting homeland security or supporting forward military operations. But modern technology has shifted the paradigm, allowing the benefits of situational awareness to be leveraged across multiple problem sets at a nominal cost.
The Example of COVID-19
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in China on December 31, 2019. On January 20, 2020, we had our first reported case in the U.S., but it wasn’t until April that we began to see consistent reporting on tests, cases, and deaths, and even longer before we began to understand the impacts on our local communities.
Much of the data necessary for emergency preparedness was publicly available ahead of this crisis, but state and local government agencies did not have the technology in place to monitor the threat. Situational awareness in the context of COVID-19 might involve the following data integrated into a modern data analytics platform:
- Vulnerable population data – Informs the number of people most at-risk geographically
- Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System – Geographical tracking of infectious diseases in the U.S.
- Hospital capacity data – Provides number of available hospital beds geographically at any given time
Integrating the above publicly available data sets allows for a single view of potential pandemics and other health risks, but most importantly it enables government agencies to create informed preparedness plans. A situational awareness data platform gives emergency managers the tools they need to be proactive and ahead of the proverbial curve.
Having a situational awareness data platform can inform government personnel the instant something happens, predict its potential growth, and help monitor the event in real time.
Natural Disasters and Civil Unrest
Aside from pandemics, emergency managers are called to action during any natural or man-made disaster, from tornadoes to forest fires to civil unrest. Having a situational awareness data platform can inform government personnel the instant something happens, predict its potential growth, and help monitor the event in real time. Situational awareness for natural disasters and civil unrest might involve the following data integrated into a modern data analytics platform:
- Search engine trend analysis – Understanding what is being searched by the population of a geographical area can provide an early warning signal to the magnitude of a problem
- Social media sentiment analysis – There is no better place than social media platforms to understand what is happening in real time, and more importantly to help gauge the public reaction to emergency situations
- Surveillance camera integration and alerting – Most government jurisdictions have access to surveillance cameras. These cameras exist in city centers, around critical infrastructure, and on most freeway systems. Integrating these cameras and instituting alerts that notify operations centers when something has changed (a crowd forming, a suspicious package left behind) can act as a force multiplier to the limited staffing that most government agencies face when it comes to emergency management
Modern-day data integration and data analytics platforms combined with the processing power of cloud computing have made situational awareness platforms a budgetary reality for emergency preparedness organizations of all sizes. To read more about use cases for a situational awareness data platform you can download our free eBook.
Dave Kelly CPT (Ret.) spent 26 years in the Michigan State Police where he led statewide intelligence, Cyber Command & Technology. Dave Kelly is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and currently serves as the vice president for Public Sector Solutions and Strategy at ibi. In this role Dave is enabling our federal, state, local government and public education partners achieve their analytics, data integration, quality, management, and visualization goals. Dave provides our partners with thought leadership on use-case driven solutions to public sector technology problems and strategic vision for what is possible when leveraging the ibi stack of technology.