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Expect the Unexpected – Your Technology Should Weather Any Disaster

Haylea Reiner, Sr. Product Marketing Manager  | 01 December 2022  |  4 minute read

Blog_ExpecttheUnexpected

When disaster strikes, public safety keeps working. So should your technology.

Critical incidents, and natural and manmade disasters are inevitable, and sometimes impossible to anticipate. This added level of uncertainty puts extreme strain on public safety technology. The consequences of your systems going down can be catastrophic for your dispatchers, first responders, and communities. These evolving threats and heightened expectations require public safety to take a proactive stance on limiting interruptions that could alter the way your agency responds to potentially life threatening situations.

Never Stop Answering Calls – The Louisiana State Police Story

Disaster recovery needs to be factored into your strategy for procuring new technology. For the Louisiana State Police (LSP), having a reliable system was essential. Louisiana is susceptible to large-scale natural disasters that increase the number of calls for service while destroying the utility infrastructure that first responders traditionally depend on for their operations. Prior to adopting Mark43 RMS and CAD, the LSP was operating without a CAD system. Without this integral system, responding to these natural disasters puts a burden on the LSP and their community members, resulting in a lack of trust. The LSP began using Mark43 RMS and CAD in 2020 and quickly began growing with and incorporating the cloud-native technology into the fabric of their DNA. In 2021, Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana, causing CAD outages across the state for multiple days except for the LSP. Mark43’s cloud-native platform with geographically dispersed availability zones hosted by AWS provided the LSP with best-in-class disaster recovery, meaning even during the worst of Hurricane Ida and its aftermath, the LSP never stopped answering calls for service. 

With Mark43, our mission-critical systems stay operational during the worst weather conditions. Partner jurisdictions experience significant technology outages, but LSP keeps running.

Allen Carpenter, Louisiana State Police

Preparing for the Fourth Level of Redundancy – Metro Nashville Department of Emergency Communications

Nashville Metro 911 is the first agency to adopt Mark43 Alternate CAD, designed to be a backup to primary CAD systems. Stephen Martini, Nashville’s Emergency Communications Director and 2nd Vice President of APCO International, plans to use Mark43 Alternate CAD in two ways:

  1. As a real-time, cloud-native backup CAD in the event their primary CAD becomes unavailable
  2. As a mobile, tactical CAD used by their Field Incident Response Support Team (FIRST) to conduct tactical incident dispatch duties to an off-site environment

Not unlike where the Louisiana State Police found themselves prior to adopting Mark43, pen and paper is currently the only option available for filling out and manually distributing to the appropriate dispatch position when Metro Nashville Department of Emergency Communications’ primary CAD goes down. If the outage lasts longer than 30 minutes, this method becomes untenable. In the past two years, Tennessee has seen extreme flooding, one of the worst tornado outbreaks to hit the United States, a cyber attack disabling a 911 center, and a Christmas Day bombing. Any one of these situations “could warrant the deployment of a tactical incident dispatch team equipped with a cloud-based CAD solution capable of tracking incidents and restoring efficiencies in processing requests for public safety response until daily operations and systems are restored,” Martini shared.

When discussing how Nashville’s Metro 911 will leverage Mark43 Alternate CAD as a mobile tactical CAD for FIRST, Martini shares that this addition to their tech stack will allow dispatchers to provide a team of trained public safety communications professionals with a flexible CAD platform, providing critical communications response support in any environment, equipped only with a laptop and an internet connection. Their ability to partner with other agencies in the area, like Tennessee Highway Patrol who also use Mark43 technology, will also strengthen the statewide capabilities to support critical incidents in any region of the state, especially those with limited infrastructure.

“A colleague reminded me once that all emergencies are local emergencies, regardless of the scope or scale. In public safety communications, we are constantly preparing for the fourth level of redundancy in an effort to mitigate against any potential impacts. Using the “PACE” method (primary, alternate, contingency, emergency) for redundancy and resiliency planning, Mark43 becomes our contingency plan both locally and regionally to provide quick, clear, efficient communications and incident response without the limitations currently experienced by site-hosted or network-specific CAD solutions.”

Stephen Martini, Metro Nashville Department of Emergency Communications

Remain Committed to Your Communities

If there is one takeaway from these experiences, it’s the importance of tying technology back to your strategy. Nashville’s Martini suggests that any agency interested in adopting an alternate CAD should do the following:

  • Clearly understand the specific use cases for which you expect to deploy the solution
  • Be prepared to communicate – and do so early and often
  • When considering the cost associated with acquiring an alternate CAD solution, examine the time and money lost when emergency communications personnel are reduced to pen and paper following a massive network outage, as well as the cost associated with importing all of those incidents back into your primary CAD when connectivity is restored
  • Cyberattacks happen. Cyberattacks in Suffolk County, NY and Butler County, OH cost a combined half-million dollars to recover from, including the costs of new equipment and overtime. Having an alternate CAD is critical in these scenarios
  • Understand that natural and manmade risks to your network and systems, then consider how you would operate should one of those incidents cause you to lose network connectivity to your CAD system 

“Do not let a national incident be the driving force for you to locate funding. I will most certainly tell you that it will cost you more money to implement new technology at that time, and you will lose trust with the women and men of your departments, your stakeholders, and most importantly, your communities.”

Colonel Lamar Davis, Louisiana State Police

For more information on Mark43 Alternate CAD and how Mark43 can support your jurisdiction, please complete the form on the right-hand side of this page and a member of our team will be in touch.

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