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Feature Highlight: Duty Manager

Over the last several years, the number of features in Connect Rocket Teams has grown and several have seen enhancements. While we’ve done our best to share updates on these changes, we know it’s not always easy to keep up given our busy lives. With this in mind, this will be an ongoing series of posts to help keep everyone up to speed on enhancements that we’ve undertaken.

When Duty Manager was first introduced, it offered basic functionality. Users could move ‘on’ or ‘off’ duty via a text message or email into the application. In an ‘off’ duty state, the user did not need to worry about being interrupted by calls or texts. The feature got the job done but left the less conscientious at risk of forgetting to move back ‘on’ duty at some future point.

Early this year, we enhanced the natural language processing power of Duty Manager. These enhancements make texting more natural but also addressed the risk of forgetting to return from an ‘off’ duty state. Below are a few examples of how you could start using Duty Manager today.

As an example you can text the following to your Connect Rocket account number:

“Off Duty for 3 hours”
Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you are ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty date/time. In three hours, Connect Rocket will message you when you are automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

“Off Duty until Friday”
Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you are ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty time. On the next instance of ‘Friday’, Connect Rocket will message you when you are automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

“Off Duty until tomorrow at 4PM”
Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you are ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty date/time. The following day, Connect Rocket will message you when you are automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

“Off Duty until April 15, 2018 at 10AM” or “Off Duty until Apr 15 at 10AM”
Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you are ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty time. On April, 15, 2018 at 10:00AM Connect Rocket will message you when you are automatically placed back ‘On Duty’

Notes:
If you do not include a time, Connect Rocket will place you back on duty on the requested day at the default ‘On Duty’ time. This default time can be changed by an account Administrator in your account settings.

If you do not specify a year, that Connect Rocket will assume the next instance of a date.

If you override an existing duty state with a new request to Duty Manager, the application will let you know and replace the previous Duty State with the most recent one.

Well, that’s a little update on Duty Manager. We hope you find it useful.

Locate. A new way to find lost subjects.

Today we’re pleased to launch a new Beta feature called Locate. Connect Rocket Locate allows Teams users to obtain the position of a mobile device with a simple text message exchange in a matter of seconds.Originally developed to help find lost subjects by ground search and rescue, Locate has also been tested by marine search and rescue groups and industry. In the weeks ahead, we expect other valuable use cases to come to light. If you have feedback for us, you can submit it here. Choose “I have feedback about a Beta feature” and let us know what you discovered or share your idea.

Locate is available in all Teams accounts starting today…we hope everyone will give it a try.

Read the documentation to get started.

Cheers,
– The Connect Rocket Team

New Duty Manager Enhancements

Emergency services is somewhat unique in that even when off duty some members still want to know what’s happening. At the same time, other members want to be left in peace when going off shift. We built Duty Manager specifically to meet this need.

In it’s initial release, Duty Manager provided simple but powerful capabilities, allowing Contacts to move ‘On’ and ‘Off Duty’ via a text message. When in an ‘Off Duty’ state Contacts receive no calls or messages from Connect Rocket and can remain uninterrupted. When ready to receive notifications again, a simple text message of ‘On Duty’ restores call and message delivery.

“Nobody wants the job of managing duty status for a large team. With Duty Manager, members can sort themselves out.”

Recently we launched an enhanced version of Duty Manager that makes an already great feature more powerful and convenient. Now you can move ‘Off Duty’ and schedule your return to an ‘On Duty’ state at a future date/time – all from a single text. Now you won’t forget to move back on duty at the right time.

Below are a few common scenarios that might be familiar. Leveraging Duty Manager’s enhanced natural language processing makes this easier than ever.

Stepping off shift for a few hours to attend a function at your child’s school?

Text “Off Duty for 3 hours” to your Connect Rocket phone number. Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you’re ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty date/time. In three hours, Connect Rocket will message you when you’re automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

Coming off shift and not back on until your next one starts later in the week?

Text “Off Duty until Friday at 7AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you’re ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty time. On Friday at 7AM local time, Connect Rocket will message you when you’re automatically placed back ‘On Duty’

 

Missing part of a 4-day work block due to a cold?

Text “Off Duty until tomorrow at 7AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

or perhaps you’re…

Taking an extended holiday leave?

Text “Off Duty until March 15, 2018 at 10AM” or “Off Duty until Mar 15 at 10AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

Yep. You guessed it. Duty Manager will take you off duty and send you a text when you move back on duty in the future.

Of course Account Administrators can continue to manage duty status via the application interface and will always retain ultimate control over who is on or off duty and manually moving on and off duty with two separate text messages still works the same as before.

Thanks for following along and a huge hat tip for all the input along the way. This enhancement was a direct result of your feedback and ideas.

Cheers,
– The Connect Rocket Team

The prevention responsibility

Anyone who has spent time responding to the emergencies of others has likely had their share of face palm moments. What were those people thinking? What a bunch of idiots! It’s easy to become jaded over time and to pass judgement on the actions of our customers. The reality however is one that quite often boils down to demographics. What a firefighter might view as basic fire safety in the home may be completely foreign to someone who was raised in a lower income home or in a part of the world that places less emphasis on fire safety education. For search and rescue groups the lack of preparedness on the part of a subject might boil down to economics or it could be a lack of exposure to the outdoors and an appreciation for the many hazards that await the unprepared backcountry visitor.

Compounding the problem, prevention programs haven’t evolved much over the years. Most still rely on stickers, badges, colouring books and dull brochures to achieve prevention goals – a public relations exercise at best but more like cheap entertainment. Others opt for finger waving and yelling to try and ‘entice’ the public into taking personal responsibility and some produce very grave adverts highlighting all of the awful things that might happen should you fail to take the steps needed to protect yourself. As any responder will attest, these programs aren’t working. They never have and never will. Call volume continues to escalate and the same failings show up over and over again in the lead up to disaster and emergency events.

In an ever connected world and faced with an audience that officially has a shorter attention span than a Goldfish (seriously) we have our work cut out for us. Making matters worse, traditional preparedness programs have typically separated operational and prevention responsibilities which leaves a very small number of people handling the bulk of the prevention tasks. Those in operational roles generally view prevention as a job for others, an attitude that needs to change if we’re going to make meaningful progress on the prevention front. As first responders, we all have a responsibility to tackle prevention.

So what are we to do? For starters, we need to use different tools, we need to deliver content that is engaging and optimized for the busy lives of our customers. Your audience is on Instagram and Snapchat and you need to be there as well. Your content needs to be original and engaging. Stats and dull safety messaging simply don’t work. Fair or not, you’re competing against the best the web has to offer and you need to find ways to captivate your audience and once you have their attention, you’d best have something worth sharing.

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Should comedy play a role? Why not? As responders, we constantly use humour to deal with the dark aspects of our job and it’s a natural way to start a conversation with an audience that might otherwise overlook the need to prepare for low probability, high consequence events. Can you gamify the building of disaster preparedness kits? Of course you can. Could you build an engaging app for kids with prevention messages integrated into game play? Yes you could. At the end of the day we need to borrow heavily from outside of our industry and remember that it’s our imagination that is the limiting factor.

For those of us in operational roles, we need to take ownership of the many prevention opportunities that we have in the course of a day. It’s ultimately our job to raise the consciousness of our customers. Next time you find yourself on a call rolling your eyes in the face of apparent stupidity take minute out of your day and remember that your customer didn’t plan on having this happen. Make a genuine effort to explain where they screwed up and provide them with the information needed to ensure they don’t become repeat customers. Better yet, turn them into a safety evangelist like North Shore Rescue did in 2012. We’ll all be better for it.

Connect early and often for more effective response.

In the early stages of a large scale emergency incident things move quickly. The volume of information (and misinformation) builds with each passing second. Responders grow impatient waiting for direction and external factors, like third-party agency requests begin to mount. The more time that passes between the start of an incident and response, the greater the volume of information that will need to be processed. Add in variables such as; equipment availability, staffing, mutual aid consideration, weather and the ongoing changes to the incident landscape and things can get out of hand in a hurry. At a point in time, the sheer volume of incident information will exceed the processing power available to senior officials. Decision fatigue becomes a factor, response is delayed and ‘knowns’ about an incident begin to lag behind the actual on-the-ground situation. The larger or the more urgent a response, the faster this information will build up.

By focussing more energy on connecting our key decision makers in the early stages of an incident and on a regular basis, we can greatly enhance the effectiveness of our response to any type of incident. So how do we do this?

At the earliest opportunity, put key decision makers on the phone for a fast call. Think less than 3 minutes. Every time senior officials connect to review the evolution of an incident, inputs are gathered, analyzed and fed into an early stage response plan. This series of actions essentially resets the meter on the amount of data that can be managed before overload sets in – a critical step in the early stages of an incident when management resources are limited. It’s akin to dividing responsibility for resources under ICS to maintain span of control.

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Repeat the calls on a regular basis (interval to be dictated by the nature of the event) to ensure the incident never escapes our ability to manage it effectively. As the incident matures and there are more resources to manage the response, the frequency and/or necessity of these calls will be reduced as more formal management criteria replace the need for quick informed decision making.