3.2 Transportation-Relevant Information Managed/Used by EOCs
The primary EOC mission is to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Even when an EOC focuses on a single functional discipline, such as telecommunications, the incident may be caused by any number of different factors (e.g., an earthquake or a terrorist attack). In some situations, EOCs may have advance warning of an incident. For example, hurricanes and political demonstrations are often preceded by ominous weather patterns and public gatherings, respectively. In other cases, little or no warning is possible, such as an industrial accident in which toxic fumes are released.
Consequently, both the types of information available from an EOC and the categories of external information that may be useful to an EOC are driven by that primary mission—emergency preparedness and response. This section describes the categories of information EOCs typically use and suggests how that information may be useful to TMCs and FCs for purposes of operating and protecting the transportation infrastructure.
3.2.1 Information Categories
EOCs utilize both situational/operational information and record and logged information.
EOCs’ records and logged information provide a record of emergency response activities and are used to both verify that procedures were followed correctly and identify lessons learned to improve future incident response capabilities. This information typically is organized in connection with after-action reports following both real emergencies and emergency response exercises.
220.127.116.11 Internal Resources
Description: As described in Section 2.2: Statistics, Locations, Jurisdictions, some EOCs own and directly control their emergency response resources and others primarily coordinate, rather than own, these resources. Regardless of how an EOC is organized or funded, it will have information on the personnel and physical resources available for emergency response. This information enables the EOC to deploy the personnel, equipment, and supplies required for any given incident.
Information on personnel resources includes:
Information on physical resources includes:
Potential Uses by TMCs: TMCs focus on ensuring the accessibility and optimization of transportation infrastructure.
Potential Uses by FCs: An FC could use information on an EOC’s internal resources in two ways. The FC could use this information immediately to support incident response. In the longer term, the FC could use this information as input to its overall risk assessments in terms of evaluating the adequacy of personnel and physical resources and deployment measures.
18.104.22.168 On-site Situational Information
Description: First responders provide on-site situational information once they have arrived at the incident site. Such information is used to conduct damage assessments and determine the adequacy of the on-site or en route resources. This firsthand information can be invaluable, particularly when information from citizen observers or the news media is incorrect or incomplete. As a hypothetical example, a water main breaks in a central business district. The news media reported that the water at a particular location was 25 feet deep. In fact, the water was not 25 feet deep; rather, the water was shooting up 25 feet high. The EOC would have deployed very different resources to respond to each of these two situations.
Potential Uses by TMCs: Just as the EOC used the on-site responder’s information to adjust the resources it deployed to respond to this incident, the TMC in this jurisdiction would also benefit from this more accurate description of the incident. The TMC can use the information to assess damage, determine the impact on the transportation infrastructure, and coordinate response efforts. In the example above, TMC actions taken to respond to water that is 25 feet deep may have involved closing down a larger perimeter around the incident site than was really warranted in this example. The on-site situational information may also prove invaluable to notify the driving public of adverse conditions. In system-wide emergencies, EOCs and FCs could be given access to fixed and portable DMS to alert the public.
Potential Uses by FCs: FCs would use this information in the same ways as they would use the information on internal resources—to support incident response and as input to risk assessments.
22.214.171.124 External Resources
Description: External resources do not have any formal organizational relationship with the EOCs (in terms of authority or funding) but are critical to incident response. External resources may be nongovernmental organizations (e.g., American Red Cross) or resources primarily owned and operated by the private sector (e.g., telecommunication, power, and water). EOCs may maintain point-of-contact information on key decision-makers for these external resources. In addition, during emergency response, EOCs receive continuous updates from these external resources. For example, the Red Cross may provide updates on available resources and their deployment status. Public utilities may provide continuous updates about the extent of damage to the infrastructure and the status of restoration activities. Local fire and police send information to EOCs in a variety of ways depending on the jurisdiction. City EOCs would have better connectivity to real-time police, fire, and rescue operations because their scope is concentrated on the same jurisdictional area (e.g., the New York City EOC likely has extensive connectivity/monitoring of the New York City Police Department, New York City Fire Department, Port Authority Police, EMS). State EOCs are looking across the State to strategically monitor overall weather patterns and lower-level EOC activity for more significant events.
EOCs use this information to manage deployment of response personnel. For example, before first responders can enter an area where power lines are down, the power company must confirm that the electricity has been shut off to those lines so that the first responders can safely enter the area. EOCs would also use information about the expected duration of an electric power outage to make decisions about certain response activities. For example, a hospital’s back-up generators may offer 3 hours of power. The EOC’s response will vary, depending on when the electric company estimates that the power will be restored—the response to a 1-hour outage will be very different from the response to a 1-day outage.
In addition to providing the fundamental ability to communicate with new technologies and almost any communications device, the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) will enable location-independent call access and transfer between and redundancy of 911 centers throughout the country once implemented nationwide. Employing an open-architecture, interoperable system of systems, NG 9-1-1 will allow these emergency communications centers to share information more quickly and with greater accuracy, and to provide access to crucial data at a level not currently available. NG 9-1-1 will also allow for information to be transmitted to the 9-1-1 call center via text, image, and video in addition to the current voice transmission function.
Potential Uses by TMCs: TMCs can use information on external resources to assess the extent of the outages/disruptions and the restoration status to determine the impact on the transportation infrastructure and the actions required to effectively manage the transportation infrastructure during the incident.
Potential Uses by FCs: FCs would use this information just as they would use the information on internal resources and on-site reports—to support incident response and as input to risk assessments.
Description: EOCs typically prepare after-action reports following incidents and exercises. The after-action reports document the response activities and their effectiveness. EOCs use the report results to improve their processes, including identification and remediation of any resource gaps.
Potential Uses by TMCs: TMCs can use EOCs’ after-action reports in much the same way as the EOCs use them—to conduct gap assessments and capture lessons learned (e.g., identifying resources, information, or process improvements that may facilitate more effective response and recovery activities). In addition, TMCs may use these reports to conduct long-term vulnerability assessments that could be used to plan infrastructure improvements. For after-action reports involving traffic incidents, EOC reports can be catalogued with and compared to TMC incident logs.
Potential Uses by FCs: FCs would use the information in EOCs’ after-action reports in much the same ways as TMCs use such information (i.e., for lessons learned and for vulnerability assessments).
3.2.2 Summary of Transportation-Relevant Information Managed/Used by EOCs
Just as the category of information available from an EOC is driven by the EOC’s primary mission of responding to adverse incidents of all types, the way in which EOC information could be used by TMCs and FCs is also driven by their respective missions:
United States Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration
Last Modified: June 21, 2010