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Juvare Case Study

Maintaining Command, Control, and Collaboration Across Multiple Colleges with WebEOC

Institutions of higher education, like colleges and universities, operate like mid-size municipalities, with all the functions of transportation, public safety, traffic control, power management, housing facilities, healthcare and other community services. Emergency managers are responsible for the safety of a network of facilities spanning multiple local and regional governments, leading to a complicated network of regulations and partnerships with local agencies.

texas college campus

Recently, leaders at a college district of multiple campuses across the San Antonio metropolis sought a solution to help operationalize plans they developed to grapple with severe weather, civic unrest, hazardous contamination, malicious violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Although no institution is likely to experience every type of disaster, thorough preparation is still required. College emergency managers needed to establish effective collaboration channels between campus leaders and community agencies, in an environment where cross-training and information sharing has not always been a shared priority. Even determining authority and responsibility has been difficult given that the district operates in such a massive (7,387 square miles) metropolitan environment with overlapping jurisdiction and redundant services.

To address these challenges, the college district implemented a virtual EOC platform to allow the district and it’s five colleges to maintain command and collaboration, even when conditions require incident commanders to work from dispersed or remote locations. Establishing an emergency operations center (EOC) and using the technology and structure to conduct training scenarios and simulations has empowered the college district to overcome the inherent challenges of collaborating in settings with overlapping services.


In San Antonio, a mid-size district that oversees five independent colleges, responsible for integrating and executing a range of emergency services. The size and dispersal of the district created major challenges with coordination and execution of emergency plans. Because the district operates within overlapping jurisdictions, any incident that impacts towns or services throughout greater San Antonio, impacts the district. In such a distributed and complex environment, incident management has been more than challenging. Anticipating and managing emergency situations requires precise planning and coordination, but the district of colleges has struggled to deliver either consistency or reliability. Operating in an environment with multiple partners and delivering layers of essential services across five city systems and the county has been a nearly insurmountable challenge.

The district’s safety departments are charged with coordinating emergency response and incident command. However, while each of the five colleges operate campus police, fire services, and associated service providers (power, nutrition, housing), these departments must also answer to external regulatory agencies and must meet standards of practice beyond the campus environment.

"Anticipating and managing emergency situations requires precise planning and coordination."

For each of the district colleges, and especially for the system as a whole, the key challenge during emergency management scenarios is to ensure efficient communications under time pressure and across multiple channels and agencies. Logistics as simple as using incompatible radios set to different channels have created obstacles to effective communication between leaders, stakeholders, and the wider community.

(6 Tips for Effective Emergency Communications)

Because they are accountable across multiple jurisdictions, college district leaders must be able to document and archive communications during emergencies or extended crises. Creating auditable incident documentation through the virtual EOC protects district agencies from regulatory or legal sanctions and also creates an excellent resource for afteraction review and improvement planning.

Multi-party environments also created challenges for overlapping or divergent training protocols, where representatives of different departments and agencies were trained with
differing terminology, protocols, and scenarios. With one school founded in the 1800’s and another founded in 2007, the five colleges that make up the district have developed in different eras and at different rates. Using fragmented platforms created additional problems with geographic references and other technological functions. This created misunderstanding or operational disagreement about staging or applying agency resources. Rather than fostering collaborative management and response, those differences have put agencies and individuals in competition for leadership in critical moments and as situations unfold.


The more complicated the emergency conditions, the more imperative it is that leaders and responders utilize a common interface with common terms and practices. The district implemented WebEOC Campus from Juvare, a standards-compliant platform built on a stable and secure network to ensure that individuals and teams across all colleges and the district can access and contribute to communications in real time. Having the ability to communicate using text, image, voice, and video helped the colleges overcome geographic separation and communications obstacles that might interfere with incident management. Juvare’s implementation of permissions-based access, with web-based and mobile app interfaces keeps responders connected and agile.

As an industry leader in emergency preparedness, Juvare has designed its suite of solutions leveraging deep experience, insights, and best practices from municipal governments, school systems, and non-governmental organizations. With more than twenty years of experience deploying WebEOC across 500+ instances, Juvare has a robust library of examples and applications that helped customization and installation for each of the five colleges and the district central administration center. WebEOC Campus, the turnkey platform to facilitate collaborative emergency management for higher education institutions, provides the same level of sophistication and functionality to the district as municipal governments use to preserve community services during immediate and extended crises. Using a real-time common operational picture helps district and college leaders as they monitor situations; recognize critical levels and trends; map the scope and extent of a crisis; and build consensus about distribution and application of key resources.


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