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How to Build More Resilient Emergency Management Operations

State and local governments are facing a wide range of emergencies, from natural disasters to cyber attacks, and the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our understanding of emergencies and their response. To adapt to these changing dynamics, governments need to embrace modern tools, technologies and processes for emergency management.

State and local governments encounter a range of emergencies — from natural disasters and extreme weather to public health crises, mass casualty incidents and cyber attacks.

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted our understanding of what an emergency is and what our response to an emergency can look like. As the nature of emergencies changes, so too must the tools, technologies and processes governments use to address these events. States and localities must forge modern, nimble emergency management operations that improve first responders’ situational awareness, put relevant data at their fingertips and better equip them to respond.

The following are best practices that can help state and local governments lay the groundwork for modern emergency management.


With more and more data coming into law enforcement departments and emergency command centers, these organizations can no longer rely on on-premises systems alone. Agencies collect data from disparate sources, including federal and state partner and law enforcement agencies, 911 calls, SMS messages from constituents via emergency texting services, social media, video surveillance systems and more. Bringing all this information together to drive situational awareness or gather insights for real-time crisis response can require a Herculean effort.

To be more agile, agencies need to embrace the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT)-driven solutions.

AI provides powerful data automation capabilities that can streamline data collection and analysis. Agencies can apply this technology for several purposes, including automated data collection for public safety answering points (PSAPs), predictive analytics for disaster planning and crisis simulations.

IoT-driven solutions can help agencies collect location-specific, real-time data, which will facilitate more proactive detection and monitoring and improve relief and rescue operations.

“Every second counts for first responders, and by combining the capabilities of AI and IoT, these technologies can improve emergency response times,” says Cory Davis, assistant vice president of Verizon Frontline.

The cloud is the foundation for many of the AI- and IoT-enabled solutions agencies can use to improve emergency response. LonGene Leonard, enterprise architect for private 4G, 5G and MEC at Verizon, says many agencies are beginning to realize the importance of the cloud and are consuming cloud services to lower costs, integrate new technologies and advance interoperability. The cloud offers the flexibility and scalability needed to modernize emergency management, so agencies should consider expanding their technology capabilities by adopting solutions such as cloud-based incident response platforms, data management platforms and next-generation 911 systems, among others.


As agencies integrate cloud-based solutions into their technology environment, they also need to build their network resilience to fully support these technologies. Jeremy Jones, a senior manager in Verizon’s public sector division, says this is why it’s critical for agencies to build redundant networks.

“You have to start with an understanding of what’s available to your area. You also have to plan for the worst, and the way I would do that is redundancy, redundancy, redundancy,” he says.

To achieve redundancy, organizations can work with a network provider to install multiple routers, switches and other network devices to avoid a single point of failure and ensure minimal downtime during disruptions. Taking these steps will help agencies maintain operational continuity when a major weather event or natural disaster affects cable or fiber lines and impedes the flow of communication.


Agencies should consider working with a strategic technology partner to get the connectivity they need.

As they assess partners, agencies should ask a network provider how many assets (both equipment and human) are located in their local area; how the provider defines interoperability; whether the provider has towers with battery and satellite backups; and how its network solutions operate during emergency incidents in terms of reliability, bandwidth and prioritization of network traffic.

Agencies should also assess a provider’s services and expertise. Jones says Verizon’s network and crisis response teams often work in concert with agencies as they try to build out their network infrastructure. This allows them to share their experiences across countless implementations about how to prepare for the worst, as they’ve seen virtually every possible scenario an agency can imagine. Verizon has even held events where it has brought together agencies from across the country to simulate disaster management, recovery and response scenarios.

“We’ve simulated a number of different events and put technology on display so officers and emergency response agencies can see the technology that’s out there and what’s available to them,” Jones says, adding that many of these solutions are more cost-effective and easier to implement than agencies realize.


Agencies should conduct joint training exercises on blue sky days with their technology partners to emulate the type of emergencies in which responders may need to operate.

These exercises can help agencies gauge their mission-critical communications capabilities, strategize about what to do if there is a communications failure and get first responders more comfortable with network communications tools — which can make these tools even more impactful in moments when seconds could mean the difference between tragedy or saved lives.

This article is excerpted from the new Government Technology handbook, “A New Mindset for Emergency Response.” Click here to download the full paper.

Verizon serves as a trusted partner to the public sector, from rural communities to the largest State and Federal agencies. We enable better government through our best-in-class networks, innovative solutions, exceptional customer experience, and decades of success helping get mission-critical projects done right.