Emergency Management Portal

Executive Summary

The Emergency Management Portal is a web-based reporting tool that will provide senior management and operational teams at Headquarters (HQ) and missions with a centralized view of international emergencies affecting our missions around the world.  It will consolidate all emergency management activities and information for the purpose of monitoring, managing and reporting on international emergencies; humanitarian, consular, global health, security, environmental, technological, political and economic crises.  The portal will provide real-time situational awareness, analysis and lessons learned to improve emergency and crisis management.

The Emergency Management Portal is expected to have a very wide audience within DFAIT - HQ and also missions abroad (accessible via SIGNET and to Departmental Intranet users).  Any sectoral, geographic or mission officer may access the Emergency Management Portal for awareness of events related to their sphere of responsibilities.  However, in order for the Emergency Management Portal to remain an authoritative source of emergency management information, the portal will have user access restrictions for certain information management tasks.

It is these authorized users, along with the staff of the Emergency Operations Centre, who will have the authority to update the portal with updated information, including the latest situation reports.

The Consular Services and Emergency Management Branch at DFAIT is responsible for the provision of consular services to Canadian citizens travelling abroad.  The services provided vary in response to the nature of the event, or request, and range from answering calls from concerned relatives to evacuations in the event of conflicts or natural disasters.

Key Business Success Factors

Timely communication of information during a crisis is critical to the management of the crisis and its outcome.  The Portal will be the focal point to house all information pertinent to a crisis.  Access to this information needs to be timely, and the information concise and clear. 

The key business success factors to be achieved with the Emergency Management Portal are:

WorldReach, the vendor which supplies the Consular Case Management System (COSMOS) used by the Consular branch, has subsequently been contracted by DFAIT to augment the COSMOS suite of tools in order to provide the functionality requirements of the Emergency Management Portal.

Close attention will be paid throughout the development lifecycle of the Emergency Management Portal to a series of Critical Success Factors (CSFs) that have been established for the portal.  These CSFs have been derived from client workshops and also from lessons learned about the management of the H1N1 virus emergency.  The CSFs are:

The Emergency Management Portal is designed to automatically access and present select emergency related information from other Departmental systems such as COSMOS, and the Register of Canadians Abroad (ROCA). No personal information is exchanged between the above systems and the Emergency Management Portal.

In general, information from COSMOS and ROCA is displayed dynamically by the portal. Most statistical information received by the portal will not be stored or managed by the Emergency Management Portal. However, certain statistical information from either system is stored and managed on the Emergency Management portal. Furthermore, select information captured from COSMOS or ROCA may be edited and modified by the Emergency Watch and Response Center personnel, and/or the information manager, as needed. The Emergency Watch and Response Center is responsible for uploading all information, including the briefings and Qs &As. Missions will be responsible for uploading region-specific information.  Select experts from various DFAIT Branches will be given permission to upload information and data related to each specific emergency and region. 

The Emergency Management Portal will reside on the SIGNET-D network (DFAIT’s encrypted wide-area-network) and will only contain information up to the Protected ‘A’ level that is currently being stored or distributed by other means on the SIGNET-D network (e.g. email or shared drives). The update to the website is logged, and updates are performed by the system administrators. All notifications are sent through the Departmental email and Blackberry.

It is anticipated that future phases of the Emergency Management Portal will exchange crisis-related information with other Government departments (OGDs) as part of the Multi-Agency Situational Awareness System (MASAS) project.  As such, the portal’s architecture will be structured to ensure that it can adapt to Public Safety Canada’s MASAS architecture.  The MASAS project charter is to “establish an operational capability to enable the sharing and accessing of geospatial data and information between public safety and security community members in order to improve situational awareness.”  More information is available in the Multi-Agency Situational Awareness System Version 1.0 Architecture Model (November 5, 2008) and here: http://www.geoconnections.org/en/communities/publicsafety/index.html.

This information is provided to give the reader an understanding of the direction of the project but it should be noted that the first phases of the Emergency Management Portal will not be exchanging any information outside of the SIGNET network.

Privacy Risks

The Preliminary Privacy Impact Assessment (PPIA) that was completed provides insight into possible risks to personal information and recommends appropriate courses of action. The assessment was part of the Department’s commitment to protection of personal information.  It also meets the Management of Information Technology and Security Policy MITS requirements. The PPIA assessed the risks in accordance with the ten privacy principles listed below.

The PPIA concludes that there is no additional requirement for a more comprehensive privacy assessment. However, it is recommended that DFAIT should undertake a Privacy Impact Assessment when this tool progresses into the next phases of its development, in which the Emergency Management website will be made available to other government departments such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Department of National Defence, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Treasury Board Secretariat, etc.

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