The annual fall conference of the North Carolina Emergency Managers Association featured the debut of RENCI’s Collaborative Workspace Environment, a comprehensive online workspace for emergency managers consisting of desktop conferencing software, the North Carolina Emergency Management Association (NCEMA) Web portal, and NC-FIRST, RENCI’s portal for weather information.
Emergency managers and responders from across the state attended the three-day conference, held Nov. 28-31, in Atlantic Beach. The conference provided a forum for current trends and topics, information about the latest tools and technology in emergency management, and encouraged stakeholders in all levels of government, the private sector and related professions to collaborate and exchange ideas about disaster management.
“Communication and collaboration are key components of successful emergency management,” said Ken Galluppi, RENCI director for emergency management. “The fall NCEMA meeting provided an excellent opportunity for RENCI to introduce and share our current innovation in disaster research, our Collaborative Workspace Environment. The workspace is designed to facilitate communications between agencies and managers.”
RENCI experts introduced the new program to over 50 participants in two training sessions and held demonstrations at its exhibitor’s booth. Over 130 people visited the booth and registered for passwords for the Collaborative Workspace Environment. U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington), a keynote speaker at the conference, commended RENCI for its efforts to improve North Carolina emergency management technology and facilitate communications across groups.
“We are very pleased with the turnout and feedback to our program,” said Galluppi. “We look forward to attending the next NCEMA meeting in March and planning more training sessions across the state. Our goals are to get more people comfortable using our tools, evaluate their effectiveness, and strategize on integrating the program at the state level.”
The components of the Collaborative Workspace Environment enhance the kinds of communication and collaboration necessary in emergency management.
- The NCEMA Web portal uses Microsoft’s SharePoint technology and provides a variety of capabilities to emergency managers, such as Web conferencing, video conferencing and virtual classroom software.
- The desktop conferencing tool allows users to share applications, such as storm surge data and presentations, with other professionals around the state.
- The NC-FIRST weather information portal helps emergency managers interpret weather data, understand weather threats and choose actions that minimize the threats to lives and property caused by extreme weather.
NC-FIRST, first introduced last March, also includes new modules on winter weather, thunderstorms, fire, heat and drought.