On the morning of December 6, 1917 two ships – one a relief vessel, the Imo, and the other, a munitions ship, the Mont-Blanc, – collided in Halifax's Harbour. What resulted was one of the largest man-made explosions before the denotation of the atomic bomb.
The explosion, soon to be titled the Halifax Explosion, caused untold decimation to one of Canada's main port cities, leaving more than a thousand dead, more injured, and countless citizens without homes or shelter.
This week will mark the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion with time spent remembering those who lost their lives, the strong community bond, and the help that rebuilt one of Canada's largest port cities, and how we will respond to disasters like this in the future.
It is in this same vein, it seems fitting for Halifax to be home to the world's first all-in-one emergency management software, built in the heart of Silicon Dartmouth, roughly four kilometers from the harbor itself.
With EmergHub, emergency management teams and critical infrastructure providers are able to assess, respond, and recover from natural disasters or any crisis efficiently through the use of a common operating picture.
If the Halifax Explosion were to occur today, each module developed for the application would be able to tackle obstacles as they arose with a variety of different tactics.
When the explosion occurred, both off-duty and on-duty emergency personnel such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, and emergency management officials could be recalled instantly via email, SMS message, and voice calls.
Directors and chiefs from across Halifax county could instantly be dialed out to in a matter of moments and be brought onto a teleconference that takes attendance and records the entire meeting.
A text message, email, or voice alert could immediately be sent to all those in the affected area asking them to get somewhere safe and wait for further instructions. You could also alert those outside of the blast radius to clear the roads and return to a safe location.
Following a disaster of this caliber, residents are going to bombard emergency lines with calls for help, missing persons notices, temporary housing, and more. By activating an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system you can provide a localized number to call with specific options to take the stress away from emergency communication channels.
Blueprints and Maps
Questions won't only be coming from residents – emergency managers will need to know the status of critical infrastructure providers like hospitals, electrical lines, telecommunication carriers, fire stations, and more.
With Blueprints and Maps, each one of these can be laid out on a municipal map with data fed from local utilities to create different layers and have the status of each physical building detailed.
Following the explosion more than 9,000 people were injured in the blast and required medical attention. As emergency health services make their way to the scene, a survey can be sent out via SMS, voice, and email that can ask responders how many injured they estimate are at a certain scene.
A similar survey can be sent to local hospitals asking about bed capacity and to clinics asking if they are able to care for those with minor injuries. With this information, those in need of medical assistance can be taken to hospitals with medical staff ready to triage and go to work without one hospital or clinic being flooded.
Speaking of medical staff and emergency services, critical infrastructure providers can use OnCall to immediately reach on-call and off-duty police officers, surgeons, firefighters, powerline technicians, and more. By creating scheduled shifts ahead of time with the minimum and maximum number of staff needed, the system can automatically reach out when more hands are required.
As all of this happens across the city, emergency managers and staff can watch the maps and data update in real time through Command Hub – the centralized center that consolidates all available and incoming data to provide a true common operating picture.
Finally, all of this can be activated with just the flick of a switch thanks to the Event module, which allows you to pre-plan for disasters and emergencies before they happen. You can create intricate, detailed plans that outline every step that must be taken and become digitally-living communication plans, turning pages into action.
One hundred years ago, Halifax and communities across Nova Scotia, Canada, and even in the United States came together to deal with one of the biggest man-made disasters to ever occur. Today, Halifax stands as a shining beacon vowing never to forget what happened on December 6, 1917 and the community strength and determination that helped a city rise from the ashes.
Now, we provide the very tools that can allow any town, city, province, state, or country do the same.
To learn more about the EmergHub and the team that built it, visit the EmergHub page.