In my latest book ”Knowledge Management in Practice” published in 2016 I wrote a chapter on Knowledge Management in Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. I began that chapter stating “During a time of crisis, (such as national disasters, pandemics, acts of terrorism) relevant information is usually not received by the Individuals or Group of Individuals that need it the most. For instance, many times First Responders are not able to respond quickly and effectively without the right information during a crisis situation. The lack of timely and correct information increases level of confusion, resulting in their ineffectiveness that may cause a loss of life.”

This should sound familiar, as a nation and the world we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and searching for consistent reliable information and knowledge about this virus. Executing a consistent knowledge management plan with mechanisms to disseminate and share consistent knowledge to the public and first responders is a lesson learned for how our nation and the world has and will handle this pandemic now and in the future.

Here I have identified some contributing factors when there is a problem delivering First Responders the appropriate data, information, and knowledge in a timely manner to effectively execute during an emergency/crisis event.

The following table outlines the contributing factors related to the lack of available knowledge and the effect on what knowledge management would bring to First Responders.

#Contributing FactorsEffect on Users
1Current alert systems do not align with a cohesive strategy for preparedness, response and recovery activities during an emergency/crisis eventLack of planning and execution around preparedness, response and recovery activities will lead to a lack of injured being treated in a timely manner and prolong timeline and cost associated with response and recovery
2Many alert systems do not integrate with national, state, and local alert systemsCollaborative alert systems will enable pertinent and comprehensive alert information to be received down to the local level and enable local authorities to respond quickly to a crisis event preventing additional injuries and lose of life 
3Current alert systems do not leverage information services such as weather, geospatial and intelligence servicesAlert systems that leverage services such as weather, geospatial and intelligence services will potentially be able to provide information on impending emergency/crisis events that will lead to improved preparedness, response and recover activities contributing to saving lives and decreasing the amount of injured people
4Many alerting systems do not enable 2-way communications between all relevant emergency officials and first respondersEmergency officials and first responders are unable to make informed decisions concerning emergency preparations and responses
5Current alerting systems do not enable 2-way communications between emergency officials and the publicDuring emergencies affected individuals are unable to request and obtain immediate assistance
6Current alerting systems require dedicated hardware, software and interfaces to the telecommunication providers in order to send emergency messages,Alert volume and speeds are limited to the capacity of dedicated resources provided.  
7Ineffective information feeds to broadcast alerting systems (television, radio) delays the dissemination of critical information to the public.The public does not receive effective warnings during emergencies.
8Current alerting systems do not have the ability to provide targeted alerts by identifying an ad-hoc geographical area.Segments of the public in a geographical area affected by a crisis do not receive critical warnings.

Knowing these contributing factors and putting in place a mitigation strategy to eliminate them will improve the response to COVID-19 now and any future disasters, pandemics, or acts of terrorism. As always please share your thoughts and comments!

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