Collaboration: The key to a resilient city

To be resilient, cities must foster communication and collaboration across all departments and agencies. Shared awareness and coordination enable greater efficiency, understanding, and visibility of live operations for better incident response, empowering a city to withstand adversity or even mitigate it before it happens.

The power of shared awareness and collaboration

Shared awareness is achieved by bringing together data and people from public and private organizations into a unified view where participants define which of their data sources and attributes each partner sees.

“As an incident grows in scale and complexity, integrating new agencies and personnel into the response becomes more challenging, and lack of interoperability between communications systems can result in slow and uneven distribution of information to the people and agencies who need them,” wrote Britta Voss and Eric Anderson in their NIST-sponsored research paper Interoperability of Real-Time Public Safety Data: Challenges and Possible Future States.

By having access to the bigger picture, organizations can collaborate on end-to-end processes and the full lifecycle of an incident or event. This means cities can achieve better handoffs between teams and functions by providing correct, timely information and understanding of how each action can affect everything from choices and options to consequences for other functions and teams down the line.

From silos to common purpose

One often-cited problem is the blind handoff between paramedics and emergency room staff. As David Wales highlighted in Crisis Response Journal, when there is no one responsible for the end-to-end lifecycle of an incident, silos are created, information fragmentation occurs, and each agency pursues its own interests. For example, paramedics at the scene of a fire can make patient decisions that may not be reflective of the goals of emergency room staff or burn care units whose objective is to return a patient to his or her pre-incident condition. This fragmented approach can result in missed opportunities for better outcomes, such as the patient’s quality of life.

Coordinating action and sharing information can create a common purpose that flows through organizations and partnerships for improved response and outcomes. While the above example highlights blind handoffs during emergencies, similar coordination challenges are common in many aspects of city life.

For example, if infrastructure providers do not have shared awareness, work trenches may be dug to lay fiber in a road that was resurfaced a month earlier. But with the right coordination, the organizations could save resources by having the fiber-laying work and resurfacing happen at the same time, which could also minimize traffic disruption due to extra road closures.

In another example, fire departments can gather information from other agencies to determine why arson is happening in a certain area if they see a trend emerging. Also, fire departments can coordinate with utilities to find out if a service needs to be cut off before firefighters go into a home or building that is on fire.

Coordinate earlier to reduce impact

Additionally, by leveraging assistive AI, it is possible for agencies to detect emerging events earlier through autonomous monitoring. As a result, departments can coordinate action sooner to manage a safer, faster, and more effective response, which will help reduce overall impacts on communities and resources.

As city operations become more complex, it is imperative for departments and agencies to work together. Collaboration is the key to empowering cities to withstand adversity, so they can emerge stronger and more resilient.

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