Tomorrow's crises could be better managed

System sought to enable web communications in event of a disaster

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is seeking a “package” ICT solution to improve its communications and record-keeping in managing crises.

The ministry’s definition of “crisis” includes natural disasters or human-caused events such as bombings or political unrest.

“In some crises, it is the developing crisis itself that is managed, for example, during impending or current political upheaval overseas. In other crises, it is the aftermath of a crisis that is managed, for example, following a terrorist incident or natural disaster,” says the ministry’s request to tender (RFT).

The system is envisaged to provide the capability to set up web portals for each specific crisis. The portal will allow staff to work collaboratively on documents and communicate via discussion forums, instant messaging and email. Meetings and other events will be recorded in an electronic log book.

Lists of people and equipment and their locations should also be maintained. One important feature will be an “organigram” — an organisational chart of the functions and workstreams involved. These functional slots will typically be filled by different people during successive shifts.

Although each portal will be dedicated to a particular crisis, cross-reference to actions performed in previous similar events should be provided, says the tender. Since some information will be confidential, adequate security and authorisation procedures and virtual private network facilities should be supported.

Negotiation of contract terms with the successful supplier is expected in April. The system is expected to be fully implemented by mid-year.

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