Friday, February 24, 2017

DHSEM launches database to mobilize private-sector resources during disasters

During the Colorado Emergency Management Conference on Feb. 28, DHSEM and the Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership (CEPP) will debut a new platform to help better connect local communities with business-sector resources during disasters.

The new platform is an online database called CO-ASSIST, which stands for Coloradans Available to Assist and Support Incidents Statewide Today. The database enables private businesses to register in advance of disasters to describe what resources and services they offer, along with critical contact information.

DHSEM Logistics Section Chief Jeremy Utter compares the new tool to a more narrow and helpful form of a Google search or phone book directory that will enable local or state emergency managers to quickly locate businesses offering specific capabilities
in Colorado.

DHSEM and CEPP staff worked with various stakeholders to develop a platform that would be user-friendly and meet the needs of both businesses (private sector) and emergency managers (public sector). Businesses will be able to register the resources and services they offer and provide their 24-hour contact information, billing information and geographic service area. They also select a category for the type of service/product available, such as generators, water, sanitation, portable facilities, etc.

“It will help us to find resources faster if these vendors have pre-registered,” Utter explained. Previously, state or local emergency managers looking for specific resources might encounter delays initiating a contract for needed supplies or services because most public business listings only provide a phone number operational during normal business hours. “As we all know, disasters don’t follow a Monday-to-Friday, 8-to-5 schedule.”

The database also speeds things up by providing a known, interested vendors -- an improvement over emergency managers having to search for potential vendors and essentially cold-call them in the midst of a disaster.

CO-ASSIST is separate from and complementary to Help Colorado Now; whereas CO-ASSIST is a business directory of services and products, Help Colorado Now provides information on how to volunteer or donate in response to disasters.

CO-ASSIST is live at https://co-assist.state.co.us/.

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