The National Coordination Centre (NCC) of the Netherlands is in operation around-the-clock, poised to coordinate the flow of information and emergency responses in the event of a major national occurrence.
One of the primary roles of the NCC is to act as a crisis center for the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, coordinating the exchange of information and emergency activities for large-scale disturbances or threats to public order. The other major role involves coordinating the flow of information between the various government ministries in times of an emergency.
NCC also operated as the primary information management agency while the country served as head of the European Union (EU) from July 1 to December 31, 2004. Duties included information sharing between the various international bodies, such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; and planning, coordinating and processing safety and security measures for all meetings that involved high-level European politicians.
Dealing with the primary role of the NCC in general and the coordination of information during the coming presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2004, NCC officials concluded that their existing information management system was not up to the task of helping the agency with its emergency and civil responsibilities.
Several companies submitted bids based on requirements the NCC issued for its new information management system. The agency selected Essential Incident Master™ by ESS for numerous reasons, said Dennis Willems, functionary at the Directorate of Crisis management.
A Full-Service Solution 'Incident Master is a system which is used by a lot of Crisis Management organizations, which translates into continued innovation and stability,' said Willems, who is now also the administrator of the new system. 'Its user-friendly interface enables staff members of all levels to easily enter messages, classify them in a log and quickly locate the information when needed. Plus, information sharing between agencies has become much easier and faster.'
Essential Incident Master is a full service solution that uses best of breed technologies and services to help users manage any type of crisis. It lets them look beyond the data that their organizations enter to develop key information and management capabilities that improve the quality of the response that is delivered and lower the risk of business losses and human suffering caused by natural, technological and other hazards.
The browser-based solution brings to the desktop analytical tools, exhaustive maps and data sources, and near-real-time event data that helps users manage and share information on a variety of levels. Other tools and features housed in Incident Master include the following:
Daily event and incident tracking — Track everyday events that organizations can handle internally, or large-scale events that go beyond the ability of a single organization to handle.
Resource Management — Track resources and inventory, including daily staff and strike team members. Deploy resources, then monitor, track and demobilize them as warranted.
Plans and Procedures — Incident Master gives users the tools to create standard operating procedures, checklists and notification lists from Emergency Operations Plans that can be stored in the software's library section. In addition, the system automatically logs task status to completion.
Incident Master is the first software designed to meet all requirements of the National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS), while continuing to address daily and emergency response operations. It can be used as a stand-alone solution or as a fully integrated module in ESS' Essential Suite™ solutions portfolio.
For example, when it is combined with Essential Task Manager™ and Essential Compliance Manager™, the result is a powerful and comprehensive browser-based compliance and crisis information management package that assures compliance, reduces risk and enhances business performance.
Secure Information Sharing The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations formulates policy, prepares legislation and regulations, and is responsible for coordination, supervision and policy implementation. Among other requirements, the Ministry must promote public order and safety, provide centralized management of the nation's police force and coordinate personnel management for civil servants.
Within the Ministry, the NCC has a special task in coordinating the information flow during several phases of crisis management and assists with these mandates with Incident Master's help. The software functions as the general repository for information that is used primarily by the NCC, but it is also available – on a secure basis – to external partners.
With the Centre being in operation 24 hours a day, shifts workers can quickly access up-to-date reports from fellow workers about activities that took place during the previous shift.
In addition, the Ministry staff conducts all administrative work on the system on its own.
'It is a rather uncomplicated system and that was one of the features we were looking for, in terms of both the end user and the system administrator,' Mr. Willems said. 'When incidents happen, more people are working at the NCC than normal and they must immediately be able to work with the system. We have found that they are able to perform their duties with a few hours of specific instructions.'
Another key component of the system for the NCC involves growth and increased functionality, or what Mr. Willems calls, 'offering perspectives for the future.' He would like the centre to use the system for activities such as developing overviews of the exact locations of special units in the Netherlands so that response time could be reduced. He would also like to see other coordination centers within the government use the system to further enhance efficiency and reduce risk.
'That way we would have direct access to each other's information and we could work faster,' he said. 'With this system, we save a lot of time, which is crucial in crisis situations. If all of the centers stored and maintained their emergency and event information in Incident Master, we could save even more time because everyone would have instant access to all relevant data.'