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Expect the Extraordinary.

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The Power of Connected Data (Part 2) - Managing from a Distance: The Virtual Emergency Operations Center

DATE: September 2021

APTIM has a long history of responding to those in need through our Emergency Management Programs.

While Disaster Response and Recovery (DRR) work will always require “boots on the ground” with mobilization of our personnel to the emergency location, there is an increasing need for the ability to support a remote, real-time view of both what is happening on the ground and the resources needed behind-the-scenes to optimize their operational effectiveness and safety in execution. Duty of Care initiatives, availability and deployment of cadre members, mission status, and needs tracking are all requirements of a successful mission. And those are all points of data that must be captured and communicated.

Over the past two years, COVID-19 has increased the need to perform as much of this work remotely as is reasonably possible. The legacy command center and control system models were built on the assumption that all key leaders could be physically together to manage the response. What if the nature of the crisis, as well as COVID-19 protocols, prevents you from gathering in the same location or physically gathering at all? What is our contingency approach? All possibilities led us to the digitization, centralization, and standardization of practice to optimize our data assets and the use of the best available technology for robust data gathering, analysis, and presentation.

The Virtual Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) is an operational concept to run a functional remote alternative in place of the traditional brick-and-mortar facilities. The window into the VEOC is the Virtual Emergency Operations Center dashboard, created using Power BI.

Presenting a single, unified, and integrated view for managing and responding to DRR missions enables APTIM to gain a common operating picture, achieve situational awareness, and drive a coordinated response from anywhere.

So, what exactly is this VEOC dashboard?  The beauty of the dashboard is that the data can come from anywhere. That means that we can collect Project Controls data from Project Controls, HR data from HR, time and attendance data from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, and mission-specific data from mission applications like the APTIM Housing App – i.e., data from its originating and primary source. Following the Technology Roadmap, we can utilize the data from APTIM’s various platforms for supply chain, resource management, and more. Anywhere data resides can be connected and consolidated and presented in a meaningful way to inform project teams and management remotely. The value of data increases exponentially when connected and combined with other data sources and perspectives.

By viewing the dashboard, managers can get a snapshot of how many APTIM employees are deployed and where, the status of each mission, what resources have been requested, and the roadblocks and issues that are causing delays. A safety snapshot can show alerts for situations that may put our team members in harm’s way.

As more data sources continue to come online, the VEOC will keep evolving to capture the information that is needed to successfully run APTIM’s missions.