There are probably thousands of jurisdictions in the USA that have no access to Crisis Information Management Systems (CIMS) due to excessive software and I.T. support labor costs. Even those with access to CIMS commonly don’t use them due to the application’s difficulty of use and/or a lack of cohesive training programs.
Counties or States should maintain a CIMS which is available to all first responder organizations in their operational area, at either no or low cost to each organization. This CIMS should be efficiently scalable so as to be able to handle hundreds of organizations and thousands of users on a single server platform. Per-user software licensing costs should be either zero, or dirt cheap, to encourage exponential growth and Op Area adaptation at low marginal expense.
Access to this CIMS must be very easy for end users… no VPNs or domain logins should be required; just a simple username and password on a webpage, accessible from anywhere at anytime from any browser. And keep the interface simple and uncluttered; only the critical tools should be listed on a main menu, and those tools should be simple to use but powerful enough to manage both a local jurisdiction as well as an operational area.
While the concept of us all becoming elite “knowledge workers”, self-educating ourselves on all technologies, is a nice goal; it’s a bit lofty. First responders have practical job responsibilities and sometimes that doesn’t involve much computer use. The Op Area managing the CIMS needs to lead and promote the training, adoption and integration of the CIMS into every EM organization in their region. Learning Management Systems, while useful for forcing all employees to go though annual sexual harassment training, is not the correct tool to spark interest in a CIMS, train CIMS users or integrate CIMS use into hundreds of tabletops and FTXs. Only warm bodies can champion CIMS. The ideal CIMS champion has solid EM knowledge, reasonable IT/Web design skills and strong teaching skills. Being a good networker doesn’t hurt either!