** Dumfries & Galloway Virtual Operations Support Team website will ONLY be operational during a major incident and will not normally be updated outwith these incidents. **
What is a Virtual Operations Support Team?
Social media has become an increasingly important tool for governmental organisations to share information with the public. During an emergency it can be crucial that people in affected areas are able to obtain accurate information. The Dumfries & Galloway Virtual Operations Support Team (DGVOST) is a tool that can
- Gather and provide real time information to the public
- Distribute key safety messages during a major incident or emergency
- Counter misinformation
- Provide better situational awareness for incident commanders by gathering geo data, text, pictures, video, or a combination of these media from the public
through an innovatively effective and efficient use of social media and other online tools.
Why do we need a Virtual Operations Support Team?
Part 1 of The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and supporting Regulations establish a clear set of roles and responsibilities for those involved in emergency preparation and response at the local level.
Organisations at the core of the response to most emergencies (the emergency services, local authorities, NHS bodies) are subject to the full set of civil protection duties. Amongst other functions, they are required to:
“put in place arrangements to make information available to the public about civil protection matters and maintain arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public in the event of an emergency” – Civil Contingencies Act 2004
The DGVOST is designed to provide the public with increased situational awareness about ongoing major incidents allowing them to take proactive steps to keep themselves safe.
Activation of the DGVOST
The DGVOST will be activated by an official process and in accordance with the instructions of Police Scotland or Dumfries and Galloway Council. The VOST team members will not self-deploy but may make preparations in anticipation of deployment.
Follow the Team
Review by HMICS
The Dumfries & Galloway Virtual Operations Support Team has been demonstrated to be an innovative and effective means of communicating with the public during emergency situations. Feedback from the public following the December 2015 deployments found the public very supportive of the scheme. A 2016 review by HMICS found the team to “be innovative and an effective means of communicating with the public during emergency situations and is an example of effective practice“.
“DGVOST is yet another example of the excellent multi-agency partnership working in Dumfries and Galloway, and one which addresses some of the most significant challenges responders can face during disruption, specifically; developing situational awareness and effective communication with both the public and the media.
Having faced a number of widespread weather related challenges in recent years, it is great to see that we have taken the learning from this and have developed an innovative and cost effective solution to not just one, but a number of learning points” – Chief Executive, Dumfries and Galloway Council –
“As any incident commander will acknowledge, situational awareness knowing what is happening on the ground – is key to coordinating emergency efforts and making informed decisions. The DGVOST, has for the first time allowed incident commanders to crowd source information from the public in the form of photos, videos and live streams to gain a greater understanding of the developing situation. As an added benefit the information from the public is combined with official data sources and presented back to the community via the team to help the public have a greater understanding of both the demands on the responders and what they can do to help keep themselves safe.” – Chief Superintendent, V Division, Police Scotland