Epidemic Management: Responding to Zika, or any Disease, in a Virtual EOC

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-1-42-07-pmWith over 4,000 cases of Zika in the U.S alone, Zika is no longer a problem only for those who have visited South America recently. As the threat has become more and more pressing, hospitals and public health systems across the country are receiving grants and looking for the most efficient and effective way to manage Zika.

A similar process was taking place back in the spring of 2015 as Ebola outbreaks were spreading and shaking up the health care system. Yale New Haven Health System teamed up with Veoci to create a “Playbook for Disasters” as a real-time solution to manage Ebola preparedness, drills and responses to suspected outbreaks. Click here to read about our Ebola playbook with YNHHS-CEPDR.

The features that make the playbook successful are features that Veoci is proud to share with hospitals for just about any type of crisis or disease outbreak. Many hospitals and public health systems are turning to a virtual EOC to streamline their preparedness and response processes, provide full visibility and centralize all communication and data on one, single platform.

Bringing Everyone onto the Central Information Hub

Public health officials are faced with the task of coordinating information with local, state, federal and even international organizations that are tracking the same disease. Healthcare providers, hospitals, other local/county agencies and private sector organizations are geographically scattered, but are instantly united in a virtual EOC in times where immediate, real-time communication is key.

  • Share messages, pictures, videos, files, and locations instantly in a real-time chat room and integrate with your emails
  • Send alerts and notifications across all departments for reminders, urgent messages or check-in requests
  • Create custom forms on a drag-and-drop template and automatically generate reports to collect relevant data
  • View all high-level information from a customizable dashboard
  • Stay connected and access all features from anywhere via our mobile app for iOS and Android

Activating a Plan: Preparing for Zika

Prior to a case of Zika or any major disease ever appearing in your county, health care officials need to have a preparedness plan that is tailored to their unique processes.

  • At the click of a button, assign tasks and workflows as you track progress each step of the way to completion
  • Instantly access and review automatically generated reports and dashboard information for quick decision making

Mapping and Tracking Data Visually

In order for a plan to activate and unfold smoothly, key people, assets and resources must be ready and in place.

  • Enter preexisting demographic data and map people, resources and assets as well as their condition and current status with color-coded icons on a digital, interactive GIS map
  • Share map access with the public and media to ensure valuable information is shared with those who need to know

Security Measures to Protect Data

With critical and sensitive data, security is everything.

  • Ensure HIPAA compliance and industrial grade security
  • Compartmented information with different access levels to ensure certain information is only accessible by those authorized

One Stop Shop

Maintaining an up-to-date one stop shop for all communication, data collection, reports, your paperless paper trail of customized forms related to Zika, all maps showing assets and demographics data, and, of course, your means of instant notification during an emergency, ensures that the response team feels more prepared to respond collaboratively across departments and sectors. And after the response is over, you now have a full record of every action and exchange that took place. For those who want a streamlined, efficient response to any crisis or outbreak that may arise, paper is out and virtual communication and response centers are in.

Interoperability: How Universities, Towns and Counties can Plan and Respond as One

jmu-screen-shot As another winter storm season quickly approaches (we had our first snowfall here in New Haven last week), our customers are preparing their responses. Although our many customers in Southern California are not too worried, our east-coasters have a lot to do to ensure that resources are ready and that their whole region is prepared for how it may be affected. Many of our university and municipality customers take advantage of the ability to connect their EOC to the city and surrounding county EOCs for effective responses to emergencies or severe weather as well as the planning and management of large-scale events.

In 2012, the City of Harrisonburg, Virginia and Rockingham County conducted a joint emergency response exercise for their public safety, police, fire and other departments. Their joint departments respond to over 110,000 emergency calls every year. Their main conclusion? They needed to come up with a better communication and documentation system to link all of the various agencies responding to emergencies or events in an organized, seamless way.

After receiving a grant from the state for a web-based EOC, the City of Harrisonburg began their research with budget and customization in mind. They found product after product with cookie-cutter templates that allowed no freedom for modification and with no ability to link to the Virginia EOC. Harrisonburg understood that Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County were planning on purchasing Veoci within the next few months of 2014. After seeing UVA’s planned coordination with Charlottesville and Albemarle County as a similarity to what Harrisonburg hoped to implement with James Madison University and Rockingham County, Harrisonburg jumped ahead and purchased Veoci.

First Things First: Communication

The City of Harrisonburg shares the same values as the Veoci team, that communication is key. They immediately made use of Veoci’s instant chat feature to share weather and traffic updates across departments while Harrisonburg’s PIO used these updates to share information with the public. They created side rooms for heavy storms and major campus events, such as JMU’s Spring Fest, an event for which they used Veoci to aid them in managing and ensuring the safety of 8,000 students partying across 4 city blocks. Pictures of the masses were shared instantly through Veoci’s chat so police, other agencies and their incident commanders knew exactly what was going on and where.

Mapping Graduation and Football Games

After seeing a presentation by UVA on how they use Veoci to manage their football games, Harrisonburg and JMU decided their next step was to come up with a plan to manage their own graduation ceremonies and football games. To make the current status of the various venues for these events easily accessible and clear, they plot color-coded points with coordinating forms to document and show location, status and other information for each venue. Using the same feature, they plot the location of JMU Campus Police, Virginia State Police, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office and the Harrisonburg Police as well as the exact site of EM teams, ambulances, fire trucks and treatment areas. They also highlight roadblocks, traffic redirections and indicate open or full parking lots.

See Veoci in Action

Coordinating a region’s university, city and county has proven to be an extremely efficient and effective way for Harrisonburg, JMU and Rockingham County to provide unified plans and responses to any situation that may arise. To find out how the University of Virginia does the same in response to winter storms, join us for our webinar on Thursday, November 17, 2016 and 1:30 PM EST. Lucian Mirra, UVA’s Emergency Management Coordinator, will share how they stay in communication, map road closings and keep resources in check on one single, digitized system. Click here to register now.

Veoci: A Buzzword at IAEM 2016 in Savannah

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-2-37-05-pmLast week, three Veoci team members spent three days in what they say is one of the last cities of the real Old South, Savannah, Georgia. The International Association of Emergency Managers Conference & EMEX brought over 1,000 emergency managers, public safety officers and many others to the charming city. For Veoci, this was our fourth year exhibiting at IAEM and we have been able to witness our growth year by year.

From getting to finally meet some new customers face to face or hanging out with familiar, long-time Veoci users and friends, it is always an exciting atmosphere at our booth. Some of our happy customers even volunteered to share their experiences with Veoci with some potential prospects. From Andrew Marinik, Assistant Director of Emergency Management at Virginia Tech to Rick Fontana, Emergency Manager of our home city, New Haven, Connecticut, our booth was buzzing with discussion of best practices and new use cases.

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-2-41-00-pmA key difference that our team members notice each year is the decreasing number of people to whom we have to explain the concept of Veoci. After 5 years of creating a name for our company, we find “Veoci” steadily becoming a buzzword that almost everyone has heard of. From organizations looking for an alternative to their current system to organizations who still do everything on paper, our booth was constantly busy and our Solutions Director was demonstrating our software nonstop, essentially, for two and a half days straight.

As our team and solutions continue to grow, we find more and more opportunities to share our software with organizations who are scrambling for an streamlined way to manage all the aspects and teams involved in emergencies or day to day tasks. Meeting people, listening to their stories, and adapting our software to fit their needs is what Veoci does best and after another successful year at IAEM, we continue to do just that.

Veoci’s Rapidly Growing Aviation Solution and Team

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-2-20-46-pm

Airport Improvement Magazine recently published an article about Nantucket Memorial Airport’s transition from paper to our cloud-based platform, Veoci. Nantucket Memorial Airport signed on with us in 2015 and uses our system for a wide range of processes—from fueling aircrafts all the way to processing employee vacation time.

The article underscores a larger pattern of airports switching over to computer-based systems for managing their Part 139 operations, airfield assets, properties, and emergency preparation and response methods. Veoci employees have noticed the increase in demand as the number of participants in our airport webinars has really taken off, along with the number of responses to requests for information. What seems to attract many airport managers, executives, and operations staff to Veoci is the customizability and flexibility of the platform. Due to the recent increase in customers in the aviation sector, we have added two new employees who embody the flexibility and versatility of the platform.

Our newest Solution Engineer, Alex Nguyen, comes from Lakeland Regional Airport where he led the implementation of Veoci as an Operations Specialist. Alex graduated from Florida Institute of Technology where he studied Aviation Operations and received his Commercial Multi-Engine Pilot certificate. He also received a Masters of Business Administration from Florida Southern College. Alex displayed his creativity and inventiveness by operationalizing and managing Lakeland Regional Airport’s mowing schedules using Veoci, another solution that Airport Improvement Magazine has featured. Veoci for mowing management processes has since become a best practice for other airports to follow suit. Alex’s multifaceted experience in the intersection of business, aviation, and technology is exactly what our platform is all about!

Our newest aviation Account Executive, Vinny Jessel, also brings an interdisciplinary set of skills to the team. Vinny is a recent graduate of Skidmore college where he studied Psychology and the Liberal Arts. He worked as a Research Assistant for a clinical and developmental psychologist for number of years gaining valuable quantitative analytical skills, while refining his writing and interpersonal skills. Vinny also attended Jacksonville University where he studied Aviation Operations and received a private pilot’s license and instrument rating.

Vinny and Alex hope meet Veoci customer’s needs and bring forward new and innovative ideas to help airports function safely and smoothly.

Urban Shield 2016: Veoci’s Participation in the 10th Anniversary

urban-shield

What is Urban Shield?

Urban Shield is a 48-hour, planned training exercise that began in 2007 for regional fire departments, medical services and local, state, federal and international first responder and law enforcement teams to prepare for and provide a unified response to disasters. First responders are presented with simulations of real-world emergencies and major crises, such as fire, mass casualty or bomb situations, at scenario sites across Alameda, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

Veoci’s Participation in Urban Shield’s 10th Anniversary
urban-shield-med-doc-2“Veoci was T & E’d (trial & error) during Urban Shield 2016. The customized software met the needs of an event with six medical assessment assets over 792 square miles to ensure we provided the best quality care to our first responders. The application was well received by clinical staff and was easy to implement with real-time training that is invaluable in a real world emergency.” – Brendalyn “Val” Bilotti
Emergency & Safety Consultant Medical Branch Chief for Urban Shield

This year’s Urban Shield was hosted by The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) and ran from Friday, September 9 to Monday, September 12, 2016, with drills running all across the Bay Area. With hundreds of first responders (thirty-six Tactical Response teams of 8-10 members) with the unified goal of moving swiftly, responding effectively and mitigating or preventing disaster, Urban Shield is no joke. Team members need a way to stay in constant contact, act fast, and maintain the safety of the public as well as each other.

urban-shield-sf-site-1Four medical checkpoints are assembled in Oakland, Dublin, Stanford and San Francisco and one mdoc in the Alameda County EOC, all fully equipped with volunteers, doctors and nurses, and necessary medical supplies. Three Veoci team members traveled to Alameda County to train 288 medical volunteers on how to use Veoci for patient check-ins and how to track them as they move from checkpoint to checkpoint. The Veoci team trained volunteers on how to enter heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and other medical information into Veoci where volunteers at the next checkpoint can access it by simply scanning the patient’s badge, making it better prepared for the arrival of the next team. The Veoci team got all 288 team members processed into urban-shield-med-docVeoci in an hour less than the system they previously used. Within the Urban Shield Veoci Room, each medical checkpoint had a side room where they could store all patient information on custom forms, share pictures, video, audio and chat instantly with supervisors, tailgates, the main med doc, and other sites if there is an issue. When a patient checks in to the next medical checkpoint, all information from their previous checkpoints is instantly accessed.

sf-site-2

 

Should a team member be injured or need medical assistance away from a medical tent, field workers performed on-site medical assessments, using the Veoci app on Android tablets. All participant medical information was instantly retrieved and edited from anywhere, at any time.

 

At Veoci, we’re big on being prepared. We work hard with organizations like Alameda County Sheriff’s Office to ensure that next time emergency strikes, every single person involved knows exactly what to do. These responders and medical volunteers sacrifice so much to be a part of the effort to save lives during an emergency, so we are proud to help simplify the process with just in time training, getting everyone on the same page and streamlining safety and response procedures.

“The system continuously tracked 288 participants over 48 hours and helped us complete our mission of force health protection.” – Val Bilotti

Yahoo’s Cyber Hack Proves Security Should be a Higher Priority

secure-cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happened?

Just this past Thursday, Yahoo confirmed a massive security breach that took place in 2014. Actually, one of the world’s largest known security breaches. Cyber hackers managed to get their hands on the personal information of 500 million accounts. This means stolen names, email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and passwords. Now, Yahoo and its future parent company Verizon have damaging press, police investigations, regulator scrutiny and user outrage on their plates. Not to mention the gaggle of class-action lawsuits coming their way and their multi-billion dollar merger potentially being jeopardized.

What could Yahoo have done to prevent this?
Although the enormity of this data breach seems a surprise to everyone, it is less of a surprised to those who have followed the company closely. In recent years, Yahoo has been the target of multiple serious hacks and has gone through four chief information security officers. In 2012, hackers accessed and publicized login information for more than 450,000 Yahoo users, leading to at least one lawsuit and criticism that Yahoo didn’t encrypt the passwords it stored. A former member of Yahoo’s security team reported to CNN that the company had resisted greater funding and efforts to bolster security, and that security was pushed to the back end as other things took higher priority.

At Veoci, security is fundamental. From safe office practices like ensuring locked doors and password-protected computers to providing fully encrypted data both in transit and at rest, we value the highest level of security. As do our customers. Our cloud-based software allows our customers to stay online and respond to crisis quickly with digital, automated response plans to ensure that no further damage is done due to delayed response times. One of our customers was recently hit with ransomware, locking down all of their phones and Internet. For three full weeks, they successfully used Veoci via a wireless hot spot as a platform for communication and information sharing. Teams collected evidence and shared them across departments with instant photo sharing. They also used our digital GIS mapping to map outages and share that information with the public.

The lesson to be learned from Yahoo’s hack is that security is never something to be taken lightly. Once customer confidence and trust is lost, it is extremely difficult to regain. Privacy and security are values our founders brought from their past experience at GE and continue to hold to the highest standard at Veoci.

National Preparedness Month: The Simple Way your Community can Swiftly Increase Preparedness

preparedness
With the bombings in New Jersey and New York this past weekend, this September, which happens to be National Preparedness Month, has already tested our preparedness. Saturday morning, a garbage can exploded near the starting line of a Marine Corps charity run in Seaside Park, New Jersey. What authorities believe to be a homemade bomb exploded on a crowded sidewalk in Manhattan on Saturday night, injuring at least 29 people. On Sunday night, a backpack with multiple bombs inside was found in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As investigations began, one of those bombs exploded.

Authorities acted quickly to scour the surrounding areas for other explosives, successfully finding and removing another bomb blocks away from the initial Manhattan explosion. But how can communities themselves be a part of preparation for potential disasters or terrorist attacks?

Last year’s theme for National Preparedness Month is returning for another year: “Don’t Wait, Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.” At Veoci, communication is the foundation that our software is built on. With the founding members of our team coming from GE, all working together to develop and run SupportCentral, the largest enterprise collaboration platform, we know a thing or two about staying in touch. So when our customers use their own creativity to implement new methods of communication and information sharing within their communities, as Susquehanna County did in our previous blog, it makes us think of all the possibilities for other communities to do the same.

Attacks like this weekend’s bombings in close-knit communities are not something to be left to authorities alone. Susquehanna residents now work together to report drug activity to the district attorney’s office using a custom, public form, creating watchful eyes all over the community. Any other city, town or county can apply the same method for reporting suspicious activity or questionable packages or devices witnessed by residents.

National Preparedness Month implores community members to do their part in being prepared for any type of danger. While small actions like preparing a supply kit of food and water for yourself or your family are always encouraged, at Veoci, we believe that bigger acts of prevention can be accomplished if community members communicate and work together. Simple things like Susquehanna’s suspicious activity report form can turn a scattered community into a unified team, fully aware and prepared for anything that can happen.