Thursday, September 10, 2009

Managing the welfare aspects of a Pandemic

Auckland CDEM Group have got a great new look website and linked to it is a bi-monthly e-newsletters. The latest edition includes a section linked above outlining some of the Civil Defence activity that has taken place across the region including the rapid roll-out and training of additional Log-on for the Auckland City Council WebEOC in order to enable coordinated management of welfare requests across the region.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Board Building Boot Camp - August 2009

Following the previous two days of WebEOC meetings it was a relief to have a group of fresh faced programmers and emergency managers from around the country attend for 2 days of administrators training and board building.

This was the first camp that we opened up to other agencies and it was great to see NZ Maritime also attend, as well as Fred Wilson from Auckland City Council who supplied his considerable expertise and experience to support us on the training.

This camp reflected the format of the previous training held last November and worked extremely effectively despite a wide range of programming ability. By the end of the two days everyone had completed a range of boards, including a very effective staff rostering board, a quarantine and incoming flight management board, and administrative changes to Maritime NZ boards.

It's clear there are some extremely competent board developers out there - the challenge now is to develop some policies around the development environment so that we can start delivering local solutions and levering national boards out of them. We also had two developers attend from the Ministry Information Directorate who have been able to gain an in-depth understanding of how the system works and hopefully in the future be able to support ongoing development.

Sincere thanks to everyone who attended and their enthusiasm over the 2 days. I'd also like to thank the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management for allowing us to utilise the National Crisis Management Centre over the 4 days of meetings and training (the National Health Coordination Centre is currently utilising the laptops and meeting room we would normally use).

Attendees view the boards that everyone had developed in a final 'show and tell'

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Users Reference Group Meeting

Following the Australasian users group meeting the next day the Health Sector EMIS Reference Group met to review the use of WebEOC and other systems during the last four months of the pandemic response and identify future developments and enhancements.

One of the key issues that has emerged over the last few months was the importance of data definitions and supporting metadata. Whilst WebEOC was incredibly adaptable and many boards and metrics were created 'on the fly' some of the challenges were around the interpretation of this data and better integration with existing Ministry business intelligence tools is a priority.

The form and function of all of the boards utilised during the response was reviewed as was the supporting training material. One of the most critical boards utilised was the 'WebEOC Issues and Updates' board which generated over 750 user suggestions, bugs and enhancements. This was essential in allowing the Emergency Management Team to work with Critchlow's and ensure continual support to the sector as well as a comprehensive record of changes to the system.

Supporting WebEOC we've made considerable work developing the requirements around a 'Reporting and Analysis Database'. This essentially sits in parallel to WebEOC but allows database reporting from a range of systems; WebEOC, EpiSurv (Epidemiological Surveillance), ad-hoc data sources and base data such as census data to be analysed against each other. Whilst ongoing support from Data Base Administrators is required to fix data links if they change it offers significant enhancements to the Intelligence functions. The next phase of work will look at feeding back reports and spatial data, generated from the database in Business Objects, to WebEOC. The intention is that in the future when you go to update metric data as soon as you save the record you will get real time feedback.

Thanks to all of the sector reps that provided such open feedback and suggestions throughout the day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Australasian WebEOC Users Group

The Ministry of Health hosted the second meeting of Australian and New Zealand WebEOC users in Wellington which was well attended by representatives from Auckland City Council, Maritime Zealand, Qantas and the Ministry, as well a number of agencies considering whether they require an emergency management system, or who may work with agencies that already have WebEOC.

The focus of this meeting was on best practice, board sharing and a review of process and workflow amongst agencies that have or may be implementing WebEOC in the near future and followed on from an initial meeting held in Canberra last year hosted by the Australian Attorney General's Department that examined interoperability across agencies.

In addition to learning agency capability and WebEOC customisation that had been undertaken, there were opportunities identified to better leverage the WebEOC capability across agencies including the development of an agreed data dictionary and standardised data fields for position logs and sit-reps to facilitate dual-committing data as well as some future multi-agency boards to share information at the border.

Fred Wilson (Auckland City Council) also outlined approaches to board design best practice and a draft document has been posted to the WebEOC Community forum.

The outcomes of this meeting and future developments including the agreed WebEOC field names will be posted to a regional forum on the WebEOC community.

Monday, August 10, 2009

ToolTips / Hover Overs added to Board 47

Board 47, that tracks District health Board and ICU quantitative data, has inevitably been subject to changing definitions over the length of the response. In order to provide greater clarity around what a field is actually showing I've added Hover Overs or Tool Tip definitions that have been agreed by NHCC Operations to the display views. This means I can keep the columns headings short but users can read additional detail if they hover the icon over the column.

Now that I've discovered this easy bit of code title="Your hoverover here" you can expect to see additional explanations appearing all over the place.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Re-formatting layout of ICU List Display.

The addition of an additional two questions to the ICU board meant that the display view was not correctly printing in PDF and the final column, with the all important comments field was missed off the page. Rather than trying to work a whole lot of magic and make the page re-size and print correctly I went for the easy option and have amalgamated the DHB and ICU columns into one in order to pull the comments column back onto the PDF page view.

Whilst this increases the length of the page slightly it was always going to be challenging to fit 25 ICUs on a normal resolution display but over the next couple of weeks I may try and create an alternative display view sized for data projection which will show all ICUs but may need to omit some details like phone, fax and email.

Changes to filtering the Task Status Board

The task status board has been amended to improve the filtering and presentation of tasks to agencies that have a substantial number of tasks.

Now whilst you may not think that the 100 or so tasks that the majority of health agencies have received during the pandemic are to unmanageable for a variety of reasons - not least the Ministry NHCC being the hub of 21 DHBs we currently have 27 pages of in progress or closed tasks.

We've used a bit of code to create a drop down list which runs a series of filters. These filters present only tasks that are due in either 24, 48 or 120 hours (5 days). It also excludes all completed tasks (removing 26 pages of closed tasks and therefore speeding up page load) and just for completeness also shows tasks that have expired or were due in the preceding 48 hours. The remain filters for 'All' and 'All Open Tasks' allows both open and closed tasks outside those timeframes to be viewed.

The "My Tasks' filter button continues to work in conjunction with the drop down filters to show those tasks that your user position has either created or been assigned.

The Search functionality remains the same and allows you to search in effect a hidden field which is populated from the values within the subject, details, requester and name fields. Unfortunately you cannot search on both fields and the unique Task ID number but have raised raised an enhancement request with ESI to allow multiple search fields (it is currently one or the other).