The scene is a familiar one: a room filled with people moving with urgency and purpose, surrounded by graphs and charts, alongside desks and chalkboards/flip charts. Some may have the latest technology with computer screens live-streaming data, while others may rely on paper and markers.
In all its shapes, emergency operation centers (EOCs) have been at the core of emergency management since emergency response became a coordinated team activity. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, health-specific and, more broadly, disaster-focused EOCs have been under pressure like never before. These EOCs assisted in delivering responses at an unprecedented scale globally, especially in the public sector, helping further validate the concept.
Many jurisdictions began activating emergency operation centers (EOCs) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in March 2020. COVID-19 has required public and private sector leaders to leverage existing or create new infrastructure to “coordinate resources, information, and emergency risk communication to respond to the public health threat.” That said, as we look forward, we have touched on the potential of additional investments to prevent future pandemics, including the strengthening of resourcing EOCs, with a current global funding gap in the range of between $1 billion to $2 billion. There are also a number of lessons learned in how such EOCs should be set up and operated. We think that six major shifts will likely define how EOCs should pivot going forward in this pandemic and others to come.