Mobility and cloud power 21st century emergency response

20 September 2013 | Dr. Andrew Hawkins, Managing Director, Public Safety and Justice, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft Corporation

Floods have been the worst offenders, but earthquakes, tornadoes, strong winds, forest fires, and heat waves have all caused incredible amounts of damage around the world so far in 2013. When these natural disasters are combined with the ongoing threat of terrorism, global municipal leaders have a lot to prepare for from an emergency management perspective. To compound the challenge, most city leaders are facing austerity measures, requiring them to establish disaster management strategies with fewer and fewer resources. So the question becomes, how can first responder organizations squeeze more capability and efficiency out of existing assets?

This is one of the big questions we’re working on as part of Microsoft’s CityNext initiative, and the good news is that emerging technologies are offering some promising solutions.

The foundation of emergency response is built on information sharing and collaboration across stakeholders – from local government leaders to law enforcement to medical personnel. Coordination is paramount, and advances in mobile technologies, cloud computing, and data visualization tools are making real-time communications and collaboration easier than ever before through:     

  • Incident management, computer-aided dispatch, and records management systems that provide control center operators with a holistic situational view of threat and response activities.
  • Mobility systems and devices that connect police, fire, ambulance, and other emergency services through field and in-vehicle devices.
  • Unified communications solutions that enable real-time collaboration, communication, and information sharing.

We’ve seen a number of municipal organizations leverage the power of technology to transform emergency response operations. The Egyptian Ambulance Organization (EAO) decreased maintenance costs and dramatically improved response times using a flexible solution built by Microsoft partner Softec International. Another example comes from Germany’s Hamburg Port Authority, which leveraged Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 productivity suite to foster new levels of mobile collaboration and streamline emergency response capabilities.   

We work with fantastic partners that specialize in every aspect of emergency management implementation, including Atos (events management), AtHoc (mass alerts), and NC4 (situational readiness). These experts know how to take the latest communications and data sharing technologies and create solutions that mitigate risk and streamline response activities while maximizing resources. Over the next few months we’ll continue to showcase the innovative approaches that cities around the world are taking to protect their citizens in times of crisis.   

To ask questions, share ideas, or receive more information, please contact us at safetyanddefense@microsoft.com or @MicrosoftPSNS.


Dr. Andrew Hawkins
Managing Director, Public Safety and Justice, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft Corporation

About the Author

Dr. Andrew Hawkins | Managing Director, Public Safety and Justice, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft Corporation

Dr. Andrew Hawkins, Director, Public Safety & Justice Solutions, Worldwide Public Sector, has more than two and a half decades’ public sector expertise. He holds a PhD in Management Science from Lancaster University Management School.