Active911, like other modern tech tools, is a great help for emergency responders. I just got back from a trip to Saltillo, Mexico where the local FD has used Active911 successfully to reduce their average response time by over 50%. Most departments in the US already have low response times but still benefit from the communications and coordination that Active911 provides.
But what happens when we have a server outage and these tools suddenly disappear? As a leader in a tech organization, it’s not a subject I really want to talk a lot about because, well, we’re not supposed to go down. Ever. Nevertheless, it happens. Several weeks ago we got a call from a department who had trouble reaching their local responders because of a completely unrelated internet problem miles away in Texas. It wasn’t our “fault” or theirs, but something in the internet caused our servers to be unavailable when they needed it.
Events like this underscore the fact that we must all have a plan in place to deal with unexpected outages, and we must make sure that everyone knows and practices the plan. To this end I’ve written a policy writing guide to assist chief officers in creating a tech outage plan. This guide can be useful not only for dealing with Active911 but for any tech service with lots of moving pieces.
I encourage all administrators to examine the tech that they rely on and ensure they have a plan in place for when, not if, that technology, suffers an outage. Even if you never have to use it, you’ll be prepared to take care of the people who depend on you when the unexpected happens.