Interactive Emergency Response Communications: From Chaos to Customer Service

I am pleased to share with you information about a new cloud based program that I recently learned about and think worth your time to read and in particular watch the video. Read and watch for yourself. I hope you find it to be as interesting and informative as I did. Near the bottom is a call for help and how you can participate, please take an additional minute and click the link; FundAnything. —Bill Booth

Effective communications with the public has always been a difficult endeavor, which is only magnified during an emergency event. Emergency response organizations develop response models that cover a many emergency events, most requiring the rapid gathering of information from the public.

Two Most Important Pieces of Information:

1) “Who are you?”

2) “What do you need?”

Citizens Can Now Communicate Directly with Response Personnel During an Emergency


Unfortunately, response agencies have had to limit the amount of information they obtain because they are trying to first account for everyone – it is only after they feel they have a handle on the situation do they go back to gather further information. Therein lies the problem: we must agree that “communications” means the giving and receiving of meaningful information. Emergency response personnel generally are unable to communicate with the public, they generally only gather information.

Communications means “The giving and receiving of meaningful information.”

The challenge being faced by emergency response personnel today begin with the publics’ insistence on communicating with emergency response personnel. This accounts for the widespread use of social media by the public during an emergency.

Realizing the valuable information available, emergency response organizations have begun leveraging this new medium to better respond to the emergency. This, coupled with improvements in emergency message delivery models is the primary focus of the emergency response organizations today: they monitor and mine social media for information, act upon it, then use improve message delivery to push messages out to the public.

FEMA Help Us

This, despite the obvious highly inefficient manner, is not communication. It is merely eavesdropping on a massive scale and reacting to fragments of information.

There is now an intelligent and practical solution being proposed to this problem. NextGen EOC has conceived the Personal Emergency Response Link (PERL) emergency operations communications software system that allows for the public to communicate with emergency response personnel in real time during an emergency event. The PERL system will allow the public to interact with the system and provide event-specific information that is processed, summarized and made available to the entire emergency response structure.  1

Moreover, the PERL system will facilitate all emergency types, including:

Evacuation events often come with a reasonable period of early warning that allows emergency personnel to tell the public to leave. Unfortunately, current response models do not take advantage of this time to communicate with the public. It is only after the event that they are first engaged by emergency response personnel. PERL, on the other hand will allow citizens to provide information during the early warning stages and receive direct communications from emergency personnel as the event is unfolding.

Catastrophic events happen suddenly with little or no warning.

Response personnel must quickly ascertain the extent of the damage, broadcast information quickly and hope it is received by the public. For its part, the public either calls for emergency assistance, or attempts to go find help. PERL allows for citizens to immediately provide information to the emergency operations command in a structured manner as they remain in place. Most importantly, specific and relevant information is pushed down to focused citizens based upon information provided, directing them of the actions they should/should not take, and direct them to the nearest relief center (which, also being connected to PERL, will be able to start processing their needs before they even arrive).

PERL Allows Status Updates On Demand During The Response

Quarantines such as the Swine Flu outbreak or the Boston Marathon bombing that resulted in a city-wide lockdown, PERL allows for remote collection of data from the public, focused delivery of information, and the ability of public to obtain status updates on demand during the response.

Triage events requiring public health personnel such as an anthrax attack, pandemic flu or other similar mass inoculation event. PERL allows the public to register, complete medical questionnaires, and be directed to appropriate locations all from a remote location, greatly improving the burden of data entry and processing by response personnel.

Powerful Enough to Register Hundreds of Thousands – Remotely and Quickly

A powerful, cloud-based response application, PERL facilitates direct communication with the public processing thousands of records simultaneously. PERL provides emergency response organizations with an infinite number of response communications operators gathering data from each member of the public all at the same time. It could be possible to register hundreds of thousands of people within just a few hours, without any need for the public to even leave their home.

Making the PERL Vision A Reality; How You Can Help


NextGen EOC has developed this idea and concept and is pursuing crowd sourced funding. PERL is listed on the FundAnything website, and has created a compelling page for the PERL campaign that includes an informative video overview of the system. NextGen EOC is seeking public support to fund development, but is also open to partnering with an agency or investor to develop the PERL software.

For More Information:

– 1 No product endorsement is intended or implied.


Additional Resources

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  • Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates.
  • Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.

About Bill Booth

Authority on Strategic Business Planning For Public Safety, Police and Fire Training Centers. President of the Interact Business Group and Managing Editor at
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