Funding an Emergency Communication System

By Jon M. Evenson  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Developing an Effective Emergency Communication ProgramPt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Integrating Emergency Communications Systems

When organizations look to develop an emergency management program, one of the primary factors in its success or failure is funding. The investment in an effective emergency communication system can be significant, depending on the nature and condition of the existing systems. Retrofitting existing systems can minimize costs, but if replacement is required, budgeting should be carefully managed.

When organizations begin to develop an emergency communication system, budgeting for the project should be identified in an emergency communication system master plan. The master plan should clearly spell out an approach to budget and schedule the design, installation and commissioning of an emergency communication system on a phased approach.

In current economic conditions, funding for projects like emergency management programs and systems may require that multiple departments work together to fund and manage the project. Having multiple departments involved complicates the situation. For instance, out of what budget is the system paid for? Which group has the final say on the overall system and equipment? An organization should work to create a project team that includes all stakeholders, but clearly identifies the internal owner of the project and related emergency communication systems.

Managing Stakeholder Objectives

Each group involved in the design, installation, management and maintenance of an emergency management program and emergency communication systems — facilities, IT, human resources and security — will look at the project in a different light. Ensuring that each group's objectives are compatible with the other groups' objectives is not high on anyone's priority list — but it should be.

Security will want the system to be an extension of its capabilities and to be managed and operated out of its command locations. IT will put a priority on the amount of strain the system will put on its network and will focus on the impact on its networks and information security concerns. Human resources may look at the impact the systems and programs will have on staff or students in the event of an emergency. Each of the groups will have valid concerns and issues related to the overall emergency management program and should have a voice in the overall program design and implementation.

The project owner should be responsible for overall management of the system, but the owner should also request specific information and involvement of other groups that may be involved in the management or maintenance of the program and systems. The designated owner of the program should serve as a single point of coordination and management. A successful owner understands the concerns, issues and needs of the organization and balances that against budgets, operations and management elements to create a comprehensive but user-friendly system, one that effectively assists the organization as the system is designed and installed.

The designated owner should be very involved in the operations and management of the emergency management program and understand all elements of the emergency communication systems and their functions.

During the design and development phases, the owner should conduct interviews with various stakeholders to understand their concerns, issues and suggestions on the system design, management and integration with the emergency management plan.

Complying With The Clery Act

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their campuses. The Clery Act is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education and requires institutions to review and report annually their crime, security and emergency management plans and statistics by Oct. 1. The Department of Education may impose civil penalties up to thousands of dollars per violation against a university for failure to do so.

In 2010, amendments to the Clery Act require an annual statement of policy for emergency response and evacuation procedures and missing student notification procedures.

— Jon M. Evenson

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  posted on 2/28/2011   Article Use Policy

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