Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

More than technology: Experiences of Virtual Emergency Operations Centers (VEOCs) during the COVID-19 pandemic response in Canada

Sarah Delisle, MA, Carolyn Dumbeck, MEmergMgt, Alison Poste, BA, Amy Romanas, BDEM

Abstract


The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated emergency management offices and organizations across Canada to activate their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in a virtual capacity due to government restrictions limiting in-person activities and with the goal of reducing the spread of the virus. The aim of this exploratory research paper is to document the personal experiences of Canadian emergency management professionals working in a Virtual EOC (VEOC) environment during the COVID-19 response, including challenges and benefits they experienced, as well as lessons identified. Based on a sample of 81 emergency management professionals and using an inductive coding approach, the survey results illustrate both technological and nontechnological challenges and benefits. The findings highlight the need to incorporate three main elements into VEOC planning and operations: technology, processes, and people.


Keywords


Virtual Emergency Operations Center (VEOC), Emergency Operations Center (EOC), COVID-19 Response

Full Text:

PDF

References


CP24: A timeline of events in Canada’s fight against COVID-19. 2020. Available at https://www.cp24.com/news/atimeline-of-events-in-canada-s-fight-against-covid-19-1.5231865?cache=nowpsrmwjxmdry%3FclipId%3D89619. Accessed June 1, 2021.

Press TC: Grim anniversary: A timeline of one year of COVID-19. Coronavirus. 2021. Available at https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/grim-anniversary-a-timeline-of-one-year-ofcovid-19-1.5280617. Accessed June 2, 2021.

Cavaliere P, Cox Z, Kendra J, et al.: A research agenda to explore the emergency operations center. J Emerg Manag. 2020; 18(6): 525-534. Available at https://wmpllc.org/ojs/index.php/jem/article/view/2859. Accessed February 26, 2021.

Neal D: Four case studies of emergency operations centers: Design characteristics and implications. J Emerg Manag. 2005; 3(1): 29. Available at https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:2uQt3aP0qFwJ and https://wmpllc.org/ojs/index.php/jem/article/download/1571/1598±&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca. Accessed February 25, 2021.

Neal D: Design characteristics of emergency operating centers: What we know and don’t know. J Emerg Manag. 2003; 1(2): 35-38. Available at https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:2uQt3aP0qFwJ:https://wmpllc.org/ojs/index.php/jem/article/download/1571/1598+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca. Accessed February 28, 2021.

Quarantelli EL: Studies in Disaster Response and Planning. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1979: 1-57. Available at https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA065523.pdf. Accessed February 28, 2021.

Lutz L, Lindell M: Incident command system as a response model within emergency operation centre during hurricane Rita. J Contingen Crisis Manag. 2008; 16(3): 122-134. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-5973.2008.00541.x. Accessed February 24, 2021.

Quarantelli E: Problems and Difficulties in the Use of Local EOC’s in a Natural Disaster. Ohio: Disaster Research Centre, The Ohio State University, 1972: 1-5. Available at https://udspace.udel.edu/handle/19716/1194. Accessed February 28, 2021.

Davis C: Virtual emergency operations centres. Risk Manag. 2002; 49(7): 46-52. Available at https://search.proquest.com/openview/67bfb86eb735f15d0432b4e647008de6/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=47271. Accessed February 24, 2021.

Becerra-Fernández I, Madey G, Prietula M, et al.: Project ENSAYO: A virtual emergency operation center for disaster management research, training, and discovery. In Second International Conference on Internet Monitoring and Protection. 2007: 31. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mj-Prietula/publication/4315056_Design_and_Development_of_a_Virtual_Emergency_Operations_Center_for_Disaster_Management_Research_Training_and_Discovery/links/00b4951b719819e1b6000000/Design-and-Development-of-a-Virtual-Emergency-Operations-Centerfor-Disaster-Management-Research-Training-and-Discovery.pdf. Accessed February 25, 2021.

Wright E, Madey G: A prototype virtual emergency operations centre using a collaborative virtual environment. In Proceedings of the 5th International ISCRAM Conference. 2008. Available at https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.125.5312&rep=rep1&type=pdf. Accessed February 25, 2021.

Nikolai C, Johnson T, Pritula M, et al.: SimEOC: A distributed web-based virtual emergency operations centre simulator for training and research. Int J Inform Syst Crisis Response Manag. 2015; 7(1): 1-21. Available at https://www3.nd.edu/~veoc/resources/Papers/CynthiaNikolaiDissertation2014.pdf. Accessed February 25, 2021.

Green W: E-emergency management in the USA: A preliminary survey of the operational state of the art. Int J Emerg Manag. 2001; 1(1): 70-81. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/244924967_E-emergency_management_in_the_USA_A_preliminary_survey_of_the_operational_state_of_the_art. Accessed March 2, 2021.

Ryan M: Planning in the emergency operations centre. Tech Forecasting Soc Change. 2013; 80(9): 1725-1731. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0040162513000073?via%3Dihub. Accessed February 21, 2021.

FEMA: Emergency operations centre (EOC) references and resources tool. 2020: 1-2. Available at https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_eoc-references-resources-tool_2.pdf. Accessed March 2, 2021.

About IAEM: IAEM. Available at https://www.iaem.org/Historyof-IAEM. Accessed June 5, 2021.

Linneberg M, Korsgaard S: Coding qualitative data: A synthesis guiding the notice. Qual Res J. 2019; 19(3): 259-270. Available at https://pure.au.dk/portal/files/190067680/Linneberg_2019_Coding_qualitative_data.pdf. Accessed December 2, 2020.

Thomas D: A general inductive approach for analyzing qualitative evaluation data. Am J Eval. 2006; 27: 237-246. Available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098214005283748. Accessed December 2, 2020.

Berends L, Johnston J: Using multiple coders to enhance qualitative analysis: The case of interview with consumers of drug treatment. Addic Res Theor. 2005; 13(4): 373-381. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232044065_Using_multiple_coders_to_enhance_qualitative_analysis_The_case_of_interviews_with_consumers_of_drug_treatment. Accessed December 2, 2020.

Church S, Dunn M, Prokopy L: Benefits of qualitative data quality with multiple codes: Two case studies in multi-coder data analysis. J Rural Soc Sci. 2019; 34(1). Available at https://egrove.olemiss.edu/jrss/vol34/iss1/2/. Accessed December 3, 2020.

Pratt M: For the lack of boilerplate: Tips on writing up (and reviewing) qualitative research. Acad Manag J. 2009; 52(5): 856-562. Available at https://cecas.clemson.edu/jee/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Pratt_Oct-2009.PDF.pdf. Accessed December 13, 2020.

Merriam-Webster: Technology definition. 2021. Available at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/technology. Accessed March 15, 2021.

Prasanna R, Huggins T: Factors affecting the acceptance of information systems supporting emergency operation centres. Comput Hum Behav. 2016; 57: 168-181. Available at https://resiliencechallenge.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Prasanna-Huggins-2016.pdf. Accessed March 15, 2021.

Militello L, Patterson E, Bowman L, et al.: Information flow during crisis management: Challenges to coordination in emergency operations center. Cognition Cogn Tech Work. 2007; 9(25): 25-31. Available at https://www.academia.edu/17520676/Information_flow_during_crisis_management_challenges_to_coordination_in_the_emergency_operations_center. Accessed February 21, 2021.

Shokin YI, Chubarov LB: Information and telecommunication systems for emergency management. Comput Sci High Perform Comput. 2003; 88: 1-22. Available at https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/3-540-32376-7_1. Accessed March 20, 2021.

Wachtendorf T, Kendra J: Reproductive improvisation and the virtues of sameness: The art of reestablishing New York City’s emergency operations center. Int J Mass Emerg Disasters. 2012; 30(3): 24-274. Available at http://www.ijmed.org/articles/606/download/. Accessed February 24, 2021.

Curnin C, Owen C: Obtaining information in emergency management: A case study from an Australian emergency operation centre. Int J Hum Factors Ergon. 2013; 2(2): 131-158. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steven-Curnin/publication/258857361_Obtaining_information_in_emergency_management_a_case_study_from_an_Australian_emergency_operations_centre/links/00b7d529438e8dcb12000000/Obtaininginformation-in-emergency-management-a-case-study-from-an-Australian-emergency-operations-centre.pdf. Accessed February 21, 2021.

Sinclair H, Doyle E, Johnston D, et al.: The use of emergency operation centre in local government emergency management. Int J Emerg Manag. 2013; 9(3): 205-228. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264440712_The_use_of_emergency_operations_centres_in_local_government_emergency_management. Accessed February 21, 2021.

Perry R: Emergency operations centres in an era of terrorism: Policy and management functions. J Contingen Crisis Manag. 2003; 11(4): 151-159. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0966-0879.2003.01104001.x. Accessed February 24, 2021.

Wolbers J, Boersma K: The common operational picture as collective sensemaking. J Contingen Crisis Man. 2013; 21(4): 186-199. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1468-5973.12027. Accessed February 25, 2021.

Thompson A, Vaughan A, Pearce L: Perceptions of psychology training on behavioural responses in emergency operations centres. Int J Mass Emerg Disasters. 2017; 35(1): 61-83. Available at https://jibc.arcabc.ca/islandora/object/jibc%3A1598/datastream/PDF/view. Accessed February 21, 2021.

Brown J, Freeman C, Flynn B, et al.: Chapter 10: Integration in the emergency operations center (EOC)/emergency communications center (EOC). In Flynn B, Sherman R (eds.): Integrating Emergency Management and Disaster Behavioral Health. 1st ed. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2017: 255-275. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128036389000100?via%3Dihub. Accessed February 25, 2021.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jem.0618

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2021 Journal of Emergency Management