You are the emergency manager for Cheyenne County in a western state. Cheyenne County is located mid-way between two major urban areas and has historically been a rural county. The county is half flat grasslands to the east, and half mountainous to the west, the Alta Grande range. The primary economic base has been cattle ranching on the grass lands and gold mining in the small communities of Broken Pick, Alta Vista, and Soapy's Revenge. The county seat is Apache Wells, located in the middle of the county on the east side of the Alta Grande range. Interstate 91 runs north-south through Apache Wells. Apache Wells is served by a small airport with daily flights by three regional airlines, Mountain Air, Badlands Express, and Western Airlines. The major community in the grasslands is Fort Breckenridge, located 15 miles east of Apache Wells. Located on the back side of the Alta Grande range 10 miles west of Apache Wells, the town of Chula Crossing is a rail yard for the Durango and Cripple Creek Railroad. Cheyenne County has a county emergency management agency. In addition, each of the incorporated cities or towns in the county (Apache Wells, Fort Breckenridge, Soapy's Revenge, Alta Vista, Broken Pick, and Chula Crossing) has an emergency manager, and some form of emergency operations center.
The County emergency operations center is located in the basement of the county courthouse in Apache Wells. Currently the only method of communication between the county and city- town governments is telephone. County radios are not compatible with town or city radio systems, which in turn are not compatible with each other. During the last major disaster, the Big Moab fire, which engulfed about half the county, including both grasslands and the mountain forests, the existing telephone system proved completely inadequate for the task of maintaining communications between multiple county and city-town agencies and between the various EOCs. This was complicated by the difficulty of tracking multiple evacuations and determining where people had gone. In addition, cell systems became overloaded, rumor control systems broke down, and there was no effective way to make information available simultaneously to the news media and the public. You have seen a number of approaches to using the Internet to manage disaster information, communicate with response agencies, gather information from the public, and make information available to the public. These have included commercial web EOCs hosted remotely, commercial web EOCs hosted by the agency, and home built systems tailored to specific local needs.
1) Could such a web based EOC be a way for Cheyenne County to meet its coordination and communications needs? What factors work in favor of a web solution, and what factors are opposed?
2) Assuming that a web based EOC is an acceptable solution, how would you define the requirements for such a system. In other words, what does it have to be able to do?
3) Assuming that you have received approval in concept for the fielding of this system, how would you structure the plan for implementation?