Breaking Down Silos

Interoperability is a *huge* issue in emergency management, humanitarian response, ..actually, in an awful lot of things. My hometown in rural Indiana didn’t even have a way for the fire department to speak to the police department, it was all done via 911 operators switching lines. Add on the issues of county lines, security clearance, multiple device platforms, and a long history of mishmashing protocols to make whatever exists works, and you have the current state of affairs.

Today at RELIEF I spoke to two groups that give me great hope for these issues being addressed. The first is MutualLink, which addresses the “ability” to speak to each other, and the second is VirtualAgility, which addresses a shared view of a developing situation.

MutualLink is already live in places like California, New Jersey, and Afghanistan. Deploying its router and black boxes mean taking in communications in whatever format it comes to a central stream. The important thing is beyond the cross-platform usability, though – it’s also about crossing city, county, state, and even country lines. Your responders are no longer seeing a forest fire disappear at the border, but are continuing to be in direct contact with the entire response group.

VirtualAgility addresses those people who can now talk to each other being able to “work” together as well. At its core a planning and task management system, but ultra adaptable, trackable, and sharable. It seems so simple, but it’s a really difficult challenge to support shared decision-making – how does someone in one secured silo let someone they’re working with in another secured silo know what’s the current status of a joint project? This is an incredible dynamic dashboard, and already adopted by some very large org, meaning it’s not redundant across existing models, but replacing them.

This is the infrastructure that everything else can run on.

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