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Preparing for Emergency Communications. Technical tools to facilitate communication during a crisis. Today’s Presentation. About UVic Communication principles Technology principles. Today’s Presentation. Implementations ‘Global menu’ ‘Lite’ emergency page Emergency Notification System

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Preparing for Emergency Communications

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Preparing for emergency communications
Preparing for Emergency Communications

Technical tools to facilitate communication during a crisis


Today s presentation
Today’s Presentation

  • About UVic

  • Communication principles

  • Technology principles


Today s presentation1
Today’s Presentation

  • Implementations

    • ‘Global menu’

    • ‘Lite’ emergency page

    • Emergency Notification System

    • Website publishing resiliency


Today s presentation2
Today’s Presentation

  • Acknowledgements:

    • Larry Hinkler

      AVP University Relations, Virginia Tech

    • Chris Hawker

      Director, Centre for Risk, Resilience & Renewal, University of Canterbury (NZ)


About university of victoria
About University of Victoria

  • It’s lotus land



About university of victoria2
About University of Victoria

  • Hazards everywhere!


About university of victoria3
About University of Victoria

  • Hazards everywhere!


About university of victoria4
About University of Victoria

  • Hazards everywhere!


About university of victoria5
About University of Victoria

  • Hazards everywhere!


About university of victoria6
About University of Victoria

  • Hazards everywhere!







Uvic emergency planning office
UVic Emergency Planning Office

  • Develop procedures & plans

    • Emergency binder with contacts, instructions

  • Coordination of learning opportunities


Uvic emergency planning office1
UVic Emergency Planning Office

  • ‘Emergency Communications Committee’

    • Communications-specific discussion & guidance

    • Participation in communications projects (e.g., major website redesigns)


Communication principles driving technical solutions
Communication principles driving technical solutions


Communication principles driving technical solutions1
Communication principles driving technical solutions

  • Openness, transparency

  • In a crisis, communicate…

    • as much as possible

    • as quickly as possible

    • what people should do to stay safe

    • to inform audiences who really care


Technology principles driving implementation details
Technology principles driving implementation details


Technology principles driving implementation details1
Technology principles driving implementation details

  • Simplicity

  • Resiliency

  • Redundancy



Emergency communications at uvic1
Emergency Communications at UVic

  • Website ‘Global menu’

  • ‘Lite’ emergency homepage

  • Emergency Notification System

  • Web publishing redundancy



Uvic ca website redesign 20121
UVic.ca Website Redesign (2012)

  • Communications objective:

    • Provide consistent, deep links throughout UVic web space

    • Alert audience to situations on campus (on all pages)

  • Technical solution:

    • Global “mega menu”


Uvic ca website redesign 20122
UVic.ca Website Redesign (2012)

  • Global “mega menu”



Uvic ca website redesign 20123
UVic.ca Website Redesign (2012)

  • Global “mega menu”

    • Universal menu with deep links

    • Top of the page

    • Rolled up by default

    • Space for notifications


Uvic ca website redesign 20124
UVic.ca Website Redesign (2012)

  • Global “mega menu”

    • PHP include in template

    • Weather

      • Snow in #YYJ

    • Advisory

      • Transit strike, paving

    • Emergency

      • Popped open displaying full message






Uvic ca website redesign 20126
UVic.ca Website Redesign (2012)

  • Communications objective:

    • Ensure that emergency messaging is highly available on the homepage

  • Technical solution:

    • Emergency, blog-style homepage



Uvic ca emergency homepage1
UVic.ca emergency homepage

  • Your emergency will go viral.

    • Expect a month’s worth of traffic in a day

    • Social Media – aka, rubber necking goes global…

    • … while the people who really care can’t connect


Uvic ca emergency homepage2
UVic.ca emergency homepage

  • Replace ‘promo’ homepage

    • Blog style – updated often

    • Pre-populated in CMS with placeholder text


Uvic ca emergency homepage3
UVic.ca emergency homepage

  • Replace ‘promo’ homepage

    • Little to no ‘processing’ (esp. back-end)

    • Few/no images

    • Lite JS library




Emergency notification system1
Emergency Notification System

  • Communications objectives:

    • Alert campus community to hazardous situation

    • Direct people how to act

  • Technical solution:

    • Emergency Notification System (ENS)


Ens messages
ENS Messages

  • What is an extraordinarily simple communication medium that conveys information very clearly, concisely and completely?

  • All at once it says…

    • there is a fire

    • drop what you’re doing

    • get out of the building


Ens messages1
ENS Messages

  • ENS messages are slightly more informative than the red bells hanging on the wall


Ens messages2
ENS Messages

  • Alert the campus

    • “There is a person with a gun.”

    • “There is a gas leak.”

    • “The XYZ building is on fire.”


Ens messages3
ENS Messages

  • Direct people how to stay safe

    • “Leave campus.”

    • “Barricade in place.”

    • “Drop! Cover! Hold on!”


Ens messages4
ENS Messages

  • Inform people where to get more info

    • “See http://uvic.ca/emergency for more about...”


Ens messages5
ENS Messages

  • Wrap it up.

    • “It is safe to return.”


Ens technology
ENS Technology

  • Communication channels

    • Bulk email to Exchange mailboxes

    • Targeted email to ‘preferred’

    • SMS message to ‘mobile’ phone


Ens technology1
ENS Technology

  • Communication channels

    • VOIP phone screen

    • VOIP phone speaker broadcast


Ens technology2
ENS Technology

  • Communication channels

    • Twitter post

    • Publish to web

      • Consumable XHTML chunk

      • Video display screens


Ens technology3
ENS Technology

  • Resiliency

    • build & deploy as atomic web application

      • Groovy/grails (not APEX)

      • H2 database

    • deploy to

      • redundant servers…

      • in redundant data centres


Ens technology4
ENS Technology

  • Interface simplicity

    • used under extreme stress

    • concise wording

    • clear, action-oriented buttons

      • “Send alerts now”


Ens technology5
ENS Technology

  • Interface simplicity

    • pre-populated with ‘template’ messages

    • “training” vs. “emergency” modes


Ens technology6
ENS Technology

  • Interface simplicity

    • “Cherry blossom blizzard”


Ens technology7
ENS Technology

  • It is not…

    • a bulk emailer

    • a way to manage contacts

    • an alternative to the telephone

    • for news


Ens technology8
ENS Technology

  • It is…

    • to help people stay safe

      • “There is a gas leak. Evacuate and stay away from XYZ building.”

      • “There was a gas leak.” (news)

      • “There was a gas leak. You may still be able to smell gas, but the problem has been solved and it is safe. You can return to the XYZ building.”


Ens technology9
ENS Technology

  • It is…

    • slightly more informative than the red bell on the wall

    • [ difficult to test without actually ringing the bell ]


Bcp for communications
BCP for Communications

  • Communications objective:

    • In a crisis when our infrastructure is compromised, we must be able to continue to update the web.

  • Technical solution:

    • Off-site web hosting



A view into emergency communications planning discussions1
A view into emergency communications planning discussions

  • “What if the web server dies?”

  • “No problem, we have four of them.”

  • “What if the data centre dies?”

  • “No problem, we have two of them.”


A view into emergency communications planning discussions2
A view into emergency communications planning discussions

  • “What if both data centres die?”

  • “We have a BCP Server at TRU (Kamloops).”

  • Single VM for www at TRU

    • Re-point DNS (scripted)

    • index.php is ‘emergency’ blog style

    • 404 page is index.php

    • However…


A view into emergency communications planning discussions3
A view into emergency communications planning discussions

  • “If our data centres are down, so is our WCMS. How do we update the content to TRU?”

  • “Hmm.”

  • “Does the Director of Communications know how to code HTML and command-line sftp?”

  • Enter Judy Steward from Western


Off site cms hosting
Off-site CMS hosting

  • Both UVic and Western use Cascade CMS

    • Web-based interface

    • “Push” CMS

      • publishes via SFTP to web servers


Off site cms hosting1
Off-site CMS hosting

  • Reciprocal emergency site CMS hosting

    • Delegate admin & config

    • Common end-user interface & workflow

    • In-application authentication


A view into emergency communications planning discussions4
A view into emergency communications planning discussions


A view into emergency communications planning discussions5
A view into emergency communications planning discussions

  • “If our data centres are down, our internet connection probably is too. How will we connect to Western’s Cascade to update content?”

  • “Hmm.”

  • “We could ask Western to update the site for us.”

  • Enter Judy Steward from Western


Off site cms hosting2
Off-site CMS hosting

  • Phone call (land line, cell, satellite?) with request to update content

  • Judy can login to Western’s CMS and publish to UVic’s emerg site at TRU



Start planning today1
Start planning today

  • All I really need to know, I learned…

    … working at the help desk

  • Logistics trump technology


Start planning today2
Start planning today

  • What room will be you Emergency Command Centre?

    • Are its phone/network ports active now?

    • Who has keys?

    • Is it on the top floor? basement?


Start planning today3
Start planning today

  • What phone number should media/parents/first responders call?

    • What phone number in on your homepage?

    • Who answers that number?


Start planning today4
Start planning today

  • Practical logistical considerations for technology

    • Who has access rights to emerg systems?

    • Have they been trained?

    • When was the last time they exercised?

    • Where’s the how-to manual?


Start planning today5
Start planning today

  • Have difficult questions today – not during the event.

    • What are the plausible hazards?

    • What message and tone do we want to use to respond to them?

    • What’s our template message for each hazard?


Start planning today6
Start planning today

  • Have difficult questions today – not during the event.

    • Under which scenarios ‘Do we?’ or ‘Don’t we?’ declare an ‘emergency’?

    • When does a general ‘advisory’ become an ‘emergency’?

      • Threat to life & limb


Start planning today7
Start planning today

  • Ring the bells occasionally (but not too often)

    • Emergency Preparedness Week (May 4 to 10, 2014)

    • BC Shakeout

  • [How do you get your students to pay attention?]


Conclusions
Conclusions

  • In a crisis, communicate…

    • as much as possible

    • as quickly as possible

    • what people should do to stay safe

    • to inform audiences who really care


Conclusions1
Conclusions

  • To prepare to communicate in a crisis, build…

    • simple interfaces to

    • resilient systems that are deployed to

    • redundant locations


Questions
Questions?

  • David Shaykewich, UVic

    • dshaykew@uvic.ca

  • Judy Steward, Western

    • judy@uwo.ca


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