Google Technologies in Emergency Management


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Google Technologies in Emergency Management

  1. 1. ANS EPRRSD - 13th Robotics & Remote Systems for Hazardous Environments • 11th Emergency Preparedness & Response Knoxville, TN, August 7-10, 2011, on CD-ROM, American Nuclear Society, LaGrange Park, IL (2011) CREATE, CONNECT, COLLABORATE: GOOGLE TECHNOLOGIES IN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ABSTRACT Google isn't just for researching information, finding the local restaurants, or viewing the popularity of your own name. There's much more functionality. For example, you can use Google Apps to check gas prices in your area, create custom maps of incidents or evacuation routes, view street-level images of major cities and facilities, track packages, get flight statuses, etc. The same functionality crosses over to emergency management. The internet transformed the way emergency managers interact with the public before, during, and after emergencies. By understanding and utilizing the tools and techniques on hand, emergency management professionals have the opportunity to reach the public with accurate, timely, relevant, and easily accessible information. Google offers many free tools that benefit emergency preparedness and response. Several emergency management agencies across the nation have already taken advantage of Google applications to increase preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. This presentation provides emergency management professionals with practical applications and examples of how emergency management is taking advantage of free Google applications to increase efficiency and collaboration. All it takes is a little ingenuity and knowledge of Google applications to complement your emergency management program and related preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. Key Words: Google, collaboration, technology, preparedness, emergency management, emergency public information 1 INTRODUCTION Do you remember life before Google? How about life without the internet? The public is quickly adjusting how they do research, collaborate with each other, seek current events, and especially determine what ‘just happened’. In the past we used a computer to surf the web and a phone to call someone…
  2. 2. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 2 of 10 If that fact is truly in the past, then what do we have today? Well, that’s simple, or is it? The public is now using a phone to surf the web and a computer to call someone. It’s time to set the stage for the new emergency management landscape and meet your public where they live with Google Apps. 2 GOOGLE AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT You are no longer ON the web… you are IN the web… it is immersive. The concept of information has changed and that changes everything! When someone speaks of transforming the way we disseminate and collaborate across the internet Google is there. Odds are you already spend a lot of time on Google and we want it to be time well spent, so let’s see if we can help focus your online energy for the greater good. Google Apps:  Are a powerful suite of cloud based messaging and collaboration tools which empower its users by providing technology as a secure, reliable, scalable hosted service in the cloud  Require little or no software costs per user with minimal required programming expertise and low complexity applications  Are NOT just for researching information, finding the local restaurants, or viewing the popularity of your own name (c'mon, we know you do it)  Generate 3D models of facilities, create custom maps of incidents or evacuation routes, view street-level images of major cities and facilities, track assets, and even translate web pages  Take traditional offline applications and brings them online (ex. A free collaborative alternative to purchasing MS Office)  Provide centralized data storage with 24/7 access  Create freedom from desktop applications
  3. 3. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 3 of 10 The public is quick to evolve and constantly looking for the ‘next big thing’… it is this paper’s goal to help agencies arm themselves with information and the tools to keep up. Imagine accomplishing a large crisis response effort such as Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, New Zealand’s earthquake, or Brazil’s and Australia’s floods without Facebook, Twitter, or Google. On a grand scale, Google has developed a Crisis Response site to assist with natural disasters and humanitarian crises – this site includes emergency alerts, news updates, and donation opportunities. It also enables collaboration among crisis responders and victims with Person and Resource Finders. Of course no site would be complete without satellite imagery and maps of affected areas illustrating damage and assisting with navigating disaster zones. The Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Office is utilizing mainstream social tools and quickly gaining ‘fans’ and ‘followers’. Facebook lends itself to BEFORE AND AFTER events and Twitter brings real-time tweets of information to all followers DURING events. And that was just 2011! These are just a few examples of how the internet has ultimately changed our ability to interact with the public before, during, and after an emergency.
  4. 4. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 4 of 10 3 GOOGLE APPS IN A NUTSHELL The secret to success with Google is to try as many apps as possible in order to identify the right solution for your emergency management program. However, there are a few ‘must have’ apps to help with emergency management and here is what we suggest you include in your Google toolbox. FREE Apps Communication Gmail, Voice, Talk, Alerts, Blogger Desktop Docs, Calendar, Reader Web Sites, iGoogle, Translate, Person Finder, Resource Finder, YouTube, Picasa Mapping Earth, Maps, Builder, SketchUp BUSINESS Solutions ($50 / user / year) includes all free apps plus: Enterprise Apps for Government Solutions, Video and Groups for Business Features 25GB email storage per user, BlackBerry and Microsoft Outlook interoperability Security SSO, forced SSL, custom password strength requirements Support / Reliability 99.9% uptime guarantee SLA and 24x7 support 4 BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER – GOOGLE IS THERE You never know when to be prepared… so during down times, if ever really have down times, be preparing personnel, public messages, and all means for publishing your message to the public or participating exercise staff – which ever the case may be. Below is a table of when Google Apps could be used (our suggestions are highlighted). The first column contains the Google Apps BEFORE and AFTER an event or exercise which will ultimately help collaboration, preparedness, accessibility, and awareness. The second column contains the Google Apps DURING an event or exercise which provides accurate, timely, and relevant information throughout the
  5. 5. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 5 of 10 time of need. Following the table you can find further details about some of the Google Apps as well as examples of successful implementations across the nation. BEFORE and AFTER DURING Docs / Calendar Picasa / YouTube Blogger / Alerts Sites / iGoogle Maps / Earth / Builder Voice / Talk / Gmail Person Finder (Resource Finder) SketchUp Translate Docs / Calendar Picasa / YouTube Blogger / Alerts Sites / iGoogle Maps / Earth / Builder Voice / Talk / Gmail Person Finder (Resource Finder) SketchUp Translate 5 DOCS/CALENDAR The most common tool to increase collaboration and efficiency in emergency management is Google Docs. Google Docs is a web-based word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tool which allows users to create and edit documents from anywhere and collaborate with multiple people at the same time. Documents are saved online and can be accessed from any device with an Internet connection. Emergency Management professionals also find Google Calendar to be an effective free, collaborative tool. Google Calendar is an easy-to-use, web-based application designed to manage departmental or organizational events in one place. If multiple schedules need to be balanced users can create additional calendars to stay organized. This allows separate tracking for Training, Exercises, Events, Departments, etc. Another freedom Google Calendar provides is the ability to take your calendar with you on your smart device. Access calendar data directly from your phone or mobile browser, sync with Android apps, share schedules, and even get reminders via native phone notifications, emails, or text.
  6. 6. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 6 of 10 6 SITES/IGOOGLE One tool that emergency management agencies have used to quickly connect with responders and the public is Google Sites/iGoogle. Sites – Create and share web pages with a few simple clicks, customize a site for your organization or event, integrate other Google Apps with Google Sites so an entire emergency management presence is easily accessible or just customize your Google homepage with iGoogle. iGoogle – Helps you organize information, like alerts that come in via email or phone, RSS feeds that allow you to subscribe to information sources. With iGoogle, combine all of these sources into one convenient view. Here you can subscribe to news feeds, add 'gadgets' (i.e. weather tracking) and even make your own custom gadgets. This tool may help you get one step closer to managing your incoming flood of Emergency Management information. 7 MAPS/EARTH/BUILDER Emergency Management professionals also find Google Maps, Earth, and the new Builder to be effective free, collaborative tools. The possibilities of using Google Maps and Earth are endless. From displaying the nearest bus stop to the devastation from the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, the mapping service offers many uses. Google makes data more digestible for everyone from average citizens to emergency management agencies and personnel. While expensive and precise geographic information systems (GIS) are the mainstay of many agencies, Google Maps and
  7. 7. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 7 of 10 Earth are considered as a valuable Web 2.0 tools to better serve the masses—not to mention the reduction of strain on budgets. Maps/Earth – Bring the power of Google's cloud to your geospatial data. Maps and Earth will give you the power to generate evacuation routes, display Hazmat hot and cold zones, identify facilities near a mass casualty incident, or embed photos and videos directly in your map. Builder – Allows organizations to upload and manage data from multiple departments and create custom layers then share these maps with personnel to view. 8 VOICE/TALK/GMAIL Communications can take on several forms and Google addresses several with their communication and messaging solutions providing flexibility in an instant. What could this mean to emergency management? How about operations within a JIC, EOC, or Mobile Command? Voice – Offers a variety of features including forwarding a single published number to ring any phone anywhere anytime (or on a schedule you configure), and even transcription of voicemails to text. Talk – Utilizes video conference capabilities through Gmail or iGoogle with just a simple plug-in download. Gmail - Simple, easy, and efficient web-based email client with all the comforts of enterprise email solutions. The built-in chat and video conferencing of Google Talk give you a fully flexible email program without any of the costs. 9 SKETCHUP By this point you have seen what Google maps and GIS solutions can do for you but wouldn’t it be nice if you had 3D models of your facility, city, county, or even emergency apparatus integrated into your custom maps? Well that is where SketchUp comes into the equation. SketchUp – A powerful 3D modeling tool allowing quick design and share renderings of your facility, structure preplans, or apparatus. Once in SketchUp you can even utilize models rendered by other agencies and display them on your custom maps or within Google Earth. All work can be saved online and published for anyone to use, created from scratch or downloaded from the 3D Warehouse.
  8. 8. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 8 of 10 10 PERSON FINDER (RESOURCE FINDER) Person Finder – An online tool that is said to be ‘born of disaster’. It is a hub for information built completely with open source technology which allows collection of records and enables people to search online for their loved ones who were either injured or missing during a catastrophic event. The scalability of Person (or Resource) Finder is unmatched and anyone who wanted to help provide information could do so online. One hour after the 9.0 earthquake struck Japan on March 11, Person Finder was up and running, collecting records and enabling people to search through them online. Thousands of records were uploaded the first day as a massive tsunami followed the catastrophic quake. Nearly three weeks later, with the resulting nuclear plant crisis still unfolding, Google Person Finder was tracking about 607,000 records. But Person Finder, while being launched for the crisis in Japan so quickly, got its start as a product of after the Haiti earthquake, in January 2010. Resource Finder – Provides a Google map with up-to-date information on the availability of health services in your localized area. 11 TRANSLATE Ok, you have created an online emergency management or preparedness site with documents, calendars, and maps but what if your audience is unable to read English? No problem, you have Google Translate to assist with over 50 languages. Translate – Gives you the ability to get your emergency message out in multiple languages and even allows translations of incoming SMS messages on your mobile device with an Android Translate version. Quickly translate a sentence, text message, web page, or
  9. 9. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 9 of 10 entire site if necessary. You can even scan this QR barcode to download Google Translate for Android. Or, search for "Google Translate" in Android Market. 12 EXAMPLES OF GOOGLE IN ACTION Now for several examples of Google in action for Emergency Management throughout the nation:  Colorado State: o (Docs) o (Blogger) o (Docs) o (Calendar) o (Blogger) o (Blogger)  Larimer County, CO o apps-in.html (Gmail, Docs, Sites, Talk)  Recent Tornados across the South o dos_4_2011&cad=southern_us_tornadoes_4_2011  Wyoming State: o o  Greenwood County, S.C. and Utah State: o 158639/1/  Others include NY University, LA City, etc. Colorado State has done an excellent job utilizing Google Apps, incorporating Google Docs and Calendar, and in some cases delivering their emergency preparedness messages with Google Blogger websites. Larimer County, Colorado is another example of moving to Google Apps with the intent to create a more collaborative and functional government office for their 1800 employees. An added benefit of this switch from traditional servers and support is an estimated annual savings of $50-$75K. In fact, this past year, Google launched a version of its productivity suite tailored for government customers that meets federal IT security benchmarks. According to Google, Apps
  10. 10. Google Technologies in Emergency Management Page 10 of 10 for Government is the first cloud computing suite to receive FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) moderate accreditation, designed to standardize IT security across the government. 13 CONCLUSIONS When it comes to technology, the public races forward at blistering speeds, eager to try the latest and greatest. It is the intent of this paper to help those serving and protecting the public keep up with their audience. Google has helped many agencies and organizations cope with the rapidly changing landscape and I believe will continue to provide simple, low cost, and easy-to- use tools for anyone and everyone. 14 REFERENCES 1. Google,, (2011). 2. Los Angeles Times, person-finder-started-after-haiti-hurrican-katrina-seen-advancement-in-japan- eartquake-tsunam.html, (2011). 3. Google,, (2011). 4. San Francisco Chronicle, bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/04/20/businessinsider-google-opens-mapping-platform- to-big-companies-2011-4.DTL, (2011). 5. ABC News,, (2011). 6. Government Technology, Apps-Wins-Support-in-Smaller-Governments-Too.html, (2011).