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A Major Australian City Levels Up with WebEOC

After evaluating multiple disaster preparedness and response software platforms, a major city located in eastern Australia decided to switch to Juvare’s WebEOC workflow and notification solution. WebEOC has provided the city with a robust incident and information management system that is easy to learn and use, addresses its unique requirements, and allows staff to make enhancements to the platform themselves as soon as they are needed rather than having to wait weeks or months for changes to be finalised by an off-site product owner. Implementing WebEOC reduced the city’s training burden and strengthened its overall disaster response capability.

A Global City with a Challenging Climate

Located on Australia’s east coast, the Juvare client featured in this case study is a thriving global metropolis with a diverse economy. State government offices, corporate headquarters, medical and biotech research centers, healthcare facilities, universities, popular tourist areas, and many other important cultural institutions all contribute to the city’s economic fabric. Set alongside the banks of a major river, the city frequently hosts major international events and is well known for its subtropical climate, abundance of parks, and relaxed and outdoor-oriented lifestyle.
From a disaster management perspective, the city faces many unique challenges. Along with the risks common to any large metropolitan area, it must also contend with a bushfire threat, the possibility of tsunamis, and an intense annual rainy season that brings thunderstorms, destructive hail, damaging winds, and heavy flooding. The city also sits at the edge of the tropical cyclone risk zone.

Discovering the Limits of a Rigid Disaster Management System

Before turning to Juvare, the city used a disaster management platform from another vendor that had promised a great deal but proved to be of limited use in practice. “The previous system was very rigid as well as being opaque,” said a technology expert on the city’s staff. “Unless you knew the system well, you would struggle to use it. It was very unforgiving.”
The platform was so complicated that the people using it to respond to an earlier flood had been unable to understand and deploy it during the time available. “They ended up switching to email and spreadsheets,” said Sarah Keally, a Juvare Client Success Manager in Australia who has worked with the city.
The system had another serious flaw: a lack of flexibility. “Their existing system was limited in capabilities, and making changes required a developer to implement them, which caused maintenance and updates to become an expensive and time-consuming endeavor,” Keally recalled.
“The disaster space moves quickly,” added the technology expert. “We needed something that would keep up.”
As a result of these and other experiences, the city decided to conduct a thorough evaluation process for a solution that would improve the quality of response provided to its citizens.

Seeking a More User-Friendly Platform

The city issued a request for tender for a new disaster management system that would cover licensing, cloud hosting, implementation, and support services. The ideal system would have a lot of capabilities out of the box—particularly for resource management and mapping—and would be flexible enough for staff to make updates to workflows and processes themselves without intervention from the software vendor. “We also wanted something that could scale up or down from a clear-sky day to the worst that the city faces,” said the technology expert.
After considering a number of candidates, the city decided to make Juvare’s WebEOC preparedness and response solution its new disaster management system.

Implementing Juvare’s WebEOC Solution

The city received its new platform in short order. “Juvare was able to deliver and implement a brand- new disaster management system in two months from contract signature to go-live,” said Keally.
The system’s components of included the WebEOC Professional subscription, DesignStudio, Juvare Login Services for single sign-on, an ArcGIS extension for enhanced mapping, the WebEOC Board Data Manager for importing and exporting data, intuitive dashboard displays, and the WebEOC mobile app.
One feature the city particularly appreciated was Juvare’s DesignStudio low-code/no-code workflow builder. With DesignStudio’s plug-and-play functionality, users can create their own WebEOC Boards— the data and process workflows that form the foundation of WebEOC—and update the how those Board display information inside the platform as needed. This allows the system as a whole to be customised independently by city staff without having to rely on a vendor-provided developer.
After administrator training on the disaster management system, the city leveraged DesignStudio to develop new Boards for use cases including managing evacuations, communicating with the public, and distributing and restocking important resources like sandbags—a matter of great interest to the residents of the flood-prone metropolitan area.
The new system also gave city staff the ability to produce reports, dashboards, and maps for events and critical incidents while simultaneously tracking staffing levels and rostering, task and supply requests, and resource deployments.

Putting WebEOC to the Test

The first rainy season after implementing the WebEOC-based disaster management system proved to be comparatively mild, but the city’s emergency management teams still had opportunities to gauge its effectiveness.
Having trained hundreds of staff to use the new platform in the run-up to storm season, the city held a major disaster exercise late in 2022 involving a heavy flood scenario. The experience in both cases was strongly positive.
“We’ve had universal feedback that WebEOC was significantly easier to use than anything we used in the past,” said the city’s technology expert. “We trained 400 staff in less than two weeks. We were only able to do that because it’s such an easy system to use.”
The trainees said they liked that information on damage assessments, evacuation centers, and task requests was now accessible through a single platform. “You don’t have to adjust to WebEOC,” added the technology expert. “WebEOC adjusts to the user.”
The disaster exercise was attended by dozens of local officials as well as Juvare representatives. “The question we had was: Will this work when push comes to shove?” the technology expert recalled. “It came out as a resounding yes.”

Increasing the City’s Resilience and Looking Ahead

Currently, the city’s emergency management teams are exploring how they can use new features to extend the functionality of their WebEOC instance. The possibilities include implementing additional WebEOC Alerts capabilities to send out voice and text messages, incorporating electronic time sheets into existing disaster management workflows, and establishing a connection with the state police through Juvare’s JX Collaborate interorganizational messaging and information-sharing solution.
The city is also interested in creating a Board for volunteer management that will streamline training and job assignments and notify qualified individuals about when and where to report.
With challenging weather being a regular part of life in the metropolitan area and several high-profile international events on the horizon, the city is satisfied with its decision to switch to WebEOC.
Since implementing new disaster management system, the city has gained a robust critical workflow platform that is easy to learn and use, offers out-of-the-box mapping and dashboard capabilities, and allows staff to make enhancements themselves without having to wait for changes to be implemented by the software developer.
“WebEOC has substantially reduced our training burden and increased our overall response capability,” the city’s technology expert concluded.

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