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Emergency managers use technology to coordinate disaster response

The Nebraska Association of Emergency Management held its 2018 conference in Grand Island, looking at tech solutions to managing disaster response (NTV News)

With lessons learned from deadly Nebraska tornadoes, emergency managers prepare for severe weather with an eye on how technology can help.

Emergency managers have started issuing badges at disaster scenes.

There's a visual element to the IDs. Different colors represent different things, so they know who's supposed to be where.

Hamilton County Emergency Management Director Kirt Smith said, “We know they're on scene, we know how long they've been on scene, and when they leave. We make sure we're not leaving anybody behind, where somebody got lost or something happened to them. It also keeps track of our hours if it's going to be a disaster declaration or something like that.”

And what once took a room full of computers, they can now with apps on their phone.

Smith said, “I can talk to all my responders, I can hear if there's a call going on. National Weather Service, I can communicate with them. I can communicate with you through social media, direct messages to media. With the system today we can use apps on our phone to scan these cards so we don't have to be tied to the computer anymore.”

That ID system is also used at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, to coordinate law enforcement and volunteers, and has also been used in major disasters the last few years like the tornadoes in Pilger and Beaver Crossing.

And when severe weather hits, they still rely on trained spotters, but they also use reports from social media to get a sense of what's actually going on.

The Nebraska Association of Emergency Management held its annual conference in Grand Island.

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