Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

5.4.5 Information Management

  1. Be Able to Activate the Emergency Alert System Early – “Areas that activated the emergency alert system early were able to provide information to residents and facilitate evacuation planning more efficiently than those areas that waited to use the emergency alert system until later.”
    Southern California Firestorm 2003: Report for the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

  2. Be Prepared for Loss of Communication – “Loss of communication capabilities was the single most consistent finding involving most of the Great Lakes agencies. Immediate lack of information was one reason everyone persisted in trying to leave work and get home, without realizing that all traffic signals were blackened, and gridlock was sure to ensue.”
    Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: August 2003 Northeast Blackout Great Lakes Region

  3. Develop Convenient Communication Tools – “[Develop] more convenient tools to communicate with each other.”
    Reverse Lane Standards and ITS Strategies Southeast United States Hurricane Study: Technical Memorandum Number 1: Final Report

  4. Ensure the Ability to Communicate – “Communications technology was identified repeatedly as one of the weak points during the event. Cellular communications historically are poor in the area where the incident occurred. Connections were hampered further by the large number of people—motorists, police officers, firefighters, and Maryland State Highway Administration staff—trying to use their cell phones. Fire and police have an alternative—their 800 megahertz radios—but those airwaves, too, were jammed early in the response, and some of the key leaders did not have radios available immediately. Over time, the responders established small workgroups with each assigned specific radio channels for better connections.”
    I-95 Shutdown: Coordinating Transportation and Emergency Response

  5. Ensure Clear Communication – “Warnings need to include information about the hazard, its location, what action people should take, when they need to do it and the source of the warning. It needs to be specific, consistent, certain (if something is not known it should be stated), clear and accurate. Several organizations can make a joint announcement. Information needs to be provided quickly for things that can kill or incapacitate them.”
    Homeland Response, “Evacuation: What We Can Learn—and Cannot Learn—from Hurricanes”

  6. Establish Emergency Communications SWAT Team – “The members of this team would be trained in crisis communications and would serve to facilitate, not stem, the flow of information.”
    Firestorm 2003: Provincial Review

  7. “Establish a Non-Communications Plan – Because communication failures can and often do occur during the critical first minutes of an emergency, agencies should consider establishing emergency plans that do not depend on the communication of instructions. New Jersey Transit has designed emergency bus operations that its drivers know to implement in the event of an emergency. The New York Police Department, as a matter of routine, provides officers during the roll call with designated locations to cover in the event of an emergency.”
    Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: August 2003 Northeast Blackout New York City

  8. Keep Updated Paper Contact Lists – Have a minimum of three contacts and share the lists outside the agency.
    Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida, Presentation to 4th Annual FDOT/FPTA/CUTR Professional Development Workshop

  9. Provide Up-to-Date Information and Inform Others – “[During] social communication, avoid jargon, keep your workers informed, communicate among agencies; nothing will serve you better in the early stages of a disaster than comprehensive and up-to-date contact information.”
    Oklahoma City: Seven Years Later: Lessons for Other Communities

  10. Realize “A Multimedia Approach to Communications Is Required – Operators must be prepared for huge volumes of traffic on Web sites and able to provide vast quantities of printed material.”
    Saving City Lifelines: Lessons Learned in the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

  11. Understand Communications Can Be Difficult During the Incident – “In New York City, and to a lesser extent Washington, DC, immediate communication with agency field staff and emergency responders was difficult because telephone landlines were damaged and cellular communications systems were overloaded.”
    Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: Cross-Cutting Study

February 7, 2006
Publication #FHWA–HOP-08-015