March 17, 2016 – Numerous natural and human-caused emergencies routinely affect businesses’ operations and bottom lines. In Maryland, it’s common to see hurricanes and severe storms, snow events, flooding, and other incidents that threaten small businesses and large corporations alike.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has developed the Private Sector Integration Program (PSIP) in order to bring the private and public sectors together to collaborate, coordinate, and share information before, during, and after any incident by providing members with real-time emergency alerts, preparedness information, and business continuity training and networking opportunities. We believe whole heartedly in community resilience.
PSIP is a continuous effort and the program includes both ongoing engagements with members and specific operations during emergency activations. During ongoing engagements, PSIP offers emergency alerts, training and exercising information, and preparedness resources. The resources include a quarterly Newsletter that pulls information from various state agencies. For example the most recent newsletter highlighted the Zika Virus. Last summer, PSIP designed and hosted Maryland’s first public private partnership tabletop exercise with over 100 attendees from the business community.
Following an emergency or disaster that could impact business operations, MEMA ramps up our information sharing with PSIP members by activating the Business Operations Center (BOC).
The BOC is responsible for providing businesses, organizations, and associations with situational awareness and for coordinating government agencies to help solve issues affecting businesses during emergencies. Information sharing is primarily accomplished through our virtual business operations center (VBOC), an online platform that members have access.
The purpose of activating the VBOC is to give businesses the ability to pull real-time information during an emergency so that they can make informed decisions related to business operations and continuity. Much of the information provided, such as situation reports, live traffic cameras, and real-time radar, are sources typically used by government response agencies, and that may not be easily accessible to private companies. All members of PSIP have access to the interactive, online VBOC as soon as it is activated by MEMA.
MEMA’s collaborative virtual operations center for the private sector includes a variety of information, components, and screens that are useful to businesses, including a file sharing database, live traffic maps, highway cameras and collision reports, weather radar, an Emergency Operations Center webcam, a chat room, and more.