About Emergency Managers and Their Tools: What Emergency Managers Want from a Business Perspective

About Emergency Managers and Their Tools: What Emergency Managers Want from a Business Perspective

Cynthia Marie Nikolai (University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, USA), Chelsea Treboniak (Critical Ops, LLC., Sanford, NC, USA), Page Heller (Hopes Creek Consulting, College Station, TX, USA) and Gregory Madey (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJISCRAM.2016100101
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Abstract

This paper presents findings emerging from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. The aim of I-Corps is to aid in transitioning academic research into commercialized technology. Through this program, the authors developed and tested hypotheses in search of a sustainable and scalable business model for a potential future company. An element of the rigorous I-Corps curriculum included 133 interviews with emergency manager practitioners from around the country to determine the root of their immediate problems. The unbiased feedback from the industry professionals determined the outcome of our hypotheses, while validating our proposed business model.
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Background

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Inspector General (IG) of the United States made 38 recommendations to the Director of FEMA. These recommendations highlighted the need for better disaster preparedness, improved emergency information management systems, and enhanced multi-agency coordination. The March 2006 report also emphasized the valuable role a robust training and evaluation program plays in an enhanced emergency preparedness posture (U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, 2006). Emergency Managers embraced the recommendations and aimed to improve performance through enhanced training and exercises. Training, however, comes with several challenges centered around cost, manpower, and resources. A single full-scale exercise can cost upwards of $100,000 (T. Johnson, personal communication, February 4, 2016) and requires the extraction of representatives from their daily jobs; overtime and substitute staffing required for 24/7 Emergency Operations Center (EOC) operations increases the cost even further. Through prior research, two of these authors identified a need for a virtual training EOC, which allows Emergency Managers to participate in exercises and manage crises from any computer, in any location (Nikolai et al., 2009; Nikolai et al., 2010; Nikolai, 2014; Nikolai et al., 2015; SimEOC, 2016). The product of this research is called SimEOC, which is derived from simulated EOC.

Over the course of seven years, we received two funding grants from the National Science Foundation to design and develop SimEOC, a virtual EOC (Award Numbers CNS-0855164.and CNS-1405912. The next step was to test the commercialization viability of SimEOC through the NSF I-Corps program (Award number IIP-1550535).

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