TechTonic TV – Using Technology to Save Lives

The Nevada County Office of Emergency Services was recently recognized by the National Association of Counties (NACo) for the Ready Nevada County Dashboard, a one stop website aimed at providing up-to-the-minute information on fire and other community hazards.   The site also provides preparedness information and is set up to send alerts to those who sign up for the feature.   Nevada County Sheriff Lieutenant Bob Jakobs is assigned to the Office of Emergency Services as the Emergency Operations Coordinator.   In a recent interview, he explained how technology is being used to help educate citizens in advance of tragedy and how it is used when tragedy strikes.

Emergency response, emergency preparedness and emergency mitigation are just a few of the areas to which Jakobs is tasked and within those areas, he and his team work on evacuation planning programs, defensible space inspections, and as the Director of the county’s emergency operations center, which supports the incident command to save lives and mitigate threats to public safety.  

Jakobs said the Command Center is a good example of how technology is being used to increase communication from the office to the field, “If there is any silver lining to Covid, it taught us how we can work well remotely and how we can utilize technology to improve our communication.”   Jakobs said the county uses Microsoft Teams to communicate safely and has put together a virtual command center environment within Teams, using channels to set up sections and to keep all in the loop of information no matter where personnel may be located.   He noted there are unexpected benefits which include documented communication and other activity logs.  

A “Sat Runner” acquired from a company based in Chico, creates extended cell service to keep information available even in remote areas.  

As for the Ready Nevada County Dashboard, the website covers information in being prepared for an emergency, but really kicks into gear when an emergency strikes including a zone-based evacuation system.  Partnering with a private software firm, Zone Haven, the County is broken into 250 individual evacuation zones.  The zones are now used to conduct evacuations throughout the county to cut down on confusion.    Residents are responsible for finding their zone which can be done easily on the site.  The system was recently put to the test when the River Fire which affected both Nevada and Placer County forced a number of evacuations and evacuation warnings.  The value of the system was quickly realized.  While Nevada County utilized the system, there was a bit of confusion for Placer County residents that does not yet offer the service.   Pushing out Code Red messages in real time saved lives.

The Zone Haven map is now embedded in the Ready Nevada County Dashboard to streamline all available information.  Residents are encouraged to go to the site to become familiar with where to find the information before an event takes place.  A mobile application is also available, and the site has links to the zones, has an area to sign up for alerts, conveys burn day information when applicable, weather tabs, planned power outages and plenty of information for preplanning. 

Nevada County is a leader in utilizing technology to keep citizens informed and to be as effective as possible when an emergency occurs.  Learn more by watching TechTonic TV with David Clark Carroll and Lt. Bob Jakobs and as always we appreciate it when you hit the like and subscribe buttons.

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