Mobile Command Centers - Strengths and Weaknesses

Updated: Mar 9

Mobile Command Centers can deliver significant mission capability under the right emergency or disaster conditions. Mobile Command Centers can deliver a very high level of Emergency Communications, Command and Control capabilities when there is working infrastructure. Some of the capabilities that Mobile Command Center have include: extensive communications, shelter, climate control, and even videoconferencing capability for responders.

When considering the strengths and weaknesses of a Mobile Command Center, it comes down to one basic question: Will it work under any and all circumstances? On the worst day imaginable, during a Black Sky Event, will you have the emergency communications capability needed to save lives and property? This is the only thing that matters to the public depending on you.

Mobile Command Centers can deliver significant capability. But what about when infrastructure is severely compromised? There are many emergency and disaster scenarios where a Mobile Command Center makes less sense than other more nimble options. There are times when Mobile Command Centers cannot be deployed to the most critical point of operations fast enough due to compromised infrastructure such as roads. Reaching critical points of operation within the first 72 hours also presents challenges to command center vehicles in many emergency situations.

History shows that dependency on Emergency Command Centers alone for back up Emergency Communications, Command and Control often fails just when these vehicles are needed the most. There are plenty of examples where these vehicles could not be deployed rapidly enough to provide Command and Control within the critical 72-hour window for response. During these events, the 72-hour window closed, Command and Control was not established, Situational Awareness (SA) was lost and cascading events rapidly followed making the outcomes for these events much worse.

The simple fact remains that on the worst day, the last thing we will need in large scale emergency operations is the ability to have videoconferencing. What we need, plain and simple, is the ability provide reliable, sustainable two-way communications to manage our scarce resources during such events, especially during the first 72-hours.”

We need to consider the following points when we are planning response strategies for deployable Emergency Communications, Command and Control. Nearly all Mobile Command Centers have the following traits:

  • Infrastructure Dependency-All Mobile Command Centers are highly dependent on multiple forms of working infrastructure in order to deliver their mission capability. This includes working roads, remote area access, and the ability to resupply fuel for sustained operations.

  • Cost-Most Emergency Command Vehicles are very costly and out of reach for most communities. As a result, many communities then seek agreements from outside for such support. This is a flawed strategy particularly for regional events as these communities are now at the mercy of others from outside (county, state, Federal) for back up communications and they may not receive priority for Mobile Command Center support when needed most.

  • Complexity-Mobile Command Centers are “Logistically Heavy” often requiring a team to maintain and deploy them. These people resources and their families may also be affected by the event themselves and unable to deploy and support the vehicle. Many mobile command center vehicles require special skills to operate and maintain, with some requiring a CDL license to drive.

  • Visibility-While in some instances the command presence of an Emergency Command Vehicle makes sense, given today’s threat profile, this visibility can itself become a threat with the vehicle itself and those using it becoming a high profile target. Establishing a security perimeter for these vehicles makes little sense when resources are already stretched to their limits.

All emergency response organizations and agencies need a portable system with the core communications of a mobile command center providing the capability to rapidly

deploy and work around these weaknesses. Augmenting your Emergency Command Vehicle with such a system provides an operational force multiplier enabling you to achieve better operational outcomes. Having the capability to get crucial core communications to the most critical nerve centers within the first 72 hours of an incident puts you in control and allows you to manage events for the best possible outcomes. If an Emergency Command Vehicle arrives on scene, such portable systems can be pushed to more forward points of operation for secondary Command and Control providing a much

higher level of Situational Awareness (SA) at multiple levels of the event. The ideal Emergency Communication System should also provide you Every-day, portable emergency Communications Command and Control capability, and provide worst day capability for literally any emergency or disaster event.

Such a system should also be highly nimble, providing the core emergency communications capability of a Mobile Command Center, and be easy for nearly anyone to rapidly deploy. This system should provide mission capability for all events and hazards including complete infrastructure break down and failure. Additionally, it should provide broad, robust communications and should not require refueling or be dependent on working roads for deployment.

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