Emergency Planning from manual to digital

Full Application: Not funded at this stage

The Local Authority works in partnership with other organisations to improve the resilience of Kent and to ensure a coordinated response to emergencies. Emergency planning should aim to prevent emergencies occurring, or reduce the effect of an emergency. Our process is heavily reliant on manual intervention to develop, complete and maintain which could present an unacceptable risk.   

Local authorities are typically bound by the limitations of the systems and software platforms they have access to. All too often strategic key drivers for decisions on system platforms and landscapes are made as much on affordability. Decisions may not consider the potential impact on processes externally as well as internally. Globally, organisations have been focussing on digital led transformation for some years. The opportunity this project could afford is to address the problem of local authorities using multiple platforms e.g. Google and Microsoft which makes information sharing an ongoing challenge.

Project Aims and Goals

  • Identify the cost of maintaining the current plan versus a digital solution.
  • Identify through research ways to improve the user experience via deployment of digital solutions.
  • Identify options for artificial intelligence to help perform testing and validation of emergency plans through simulation.
  • Research a way of improving the sense of ownership of the content, ongoing accountability and responsibility.
  • Ensure any solution is accessible to all.

Principle project methodology

The project would apply the tools and principles of the Lean Six Sigma methodology.  

A number of cross collaboration workshops will be held.  These will take the form of a kaizen blitz, or rapid improvement workshop.  By integrating the Lean Six Sigma principles with potential digital building blocks, it is much easier to identify the levers for change.  Each phase will be subject to a tollgate review by key stakeholders.

Workshop 1 – Building on the Expression of Interest

Milestone events   Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Business conducted

Publishable outputs  Emergency Planning SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Processes and Customers)

Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Business results

Workshop 2 Understand cost of non-conformance, process capability and identify current data availability

Workshop 3 Evaluate current process and identify data opportunities

Milestone events   Value stream mapping complete, Non Value Added tasks identified

Publishable outputs N/A

Workshop 4 Evaluate the current process and identify possible solutions

Milestone events   Future “to be” value streams mapped

Publishable outputs N/A

Workshop 5 Evaluate the current process and identify possible solutions

Milestone events Future “to be” value streams

Publishable outputs N/A

Data Sub-group

A subgroup of the project team will identify data and digital opportunities. The remit of this sub-group will include how authorities could digitise the planning process and make use of big data sets to test and improve emergency plans.

Project Publishable outputs

  • A user research report
  • An options paper providing details of products or services that could be developed as an alpha project.

Collaborative partnerships

Kent Innovation and Enterprise at the University of Kent, will provide key expertise in using big data sets and AI applications and identify areas of digital opportunity, not bound by any specific product, platform or known solution.

If successful, the initial two workshops will refine the cost of having an ineffective Emergency Planning process   Subsequent workshops will look to identify solution that would reduce costs in the immediate and longer term. This would include the current cost (currently estimated for Thanet alone as 0.5 FTE to administer and maintain) and time associated with the development, documentation and testing of each plan.  

Difficult to define is the cost of non-conformance to the general public in the event of an emergency situation.  To have a tool that could simulate an emergency situation through use of data, or predict the outcome of an emergency situation with the current plans to identify areas of weakness, the benefit is immeasurable.

Benefit statement

Internal Personnel

  • Avoid the need for Authority personnel to issue reminders for plan submission, testing and storing of evidence.
  • Reduce the continuous manual updates to Emergency Planning Officer schedule.
  • Promote clear roles and responsibilities for timely upkeep and maintenance.
  • Reduce the current level of duplication.
  • Have access to clear roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency situation to facilitate mobilisation of services in an agreed and timely manner.
  • Minimise the risk, in the event of an emergency situation to all.

Strategic Partners

  • Clear roles and responsibilities within the authority and with immediate strategic partners with sense of ownership for timely upkeep and maintenance.
  • Potential identification of additional strategic partners from the private sector who could benefit from data share; and contribute to the authorities’ ability to deliver and enact effective emergency plans when required.

Local People

  • Informative and up to date information on what to do in the event of an emergency situation.
  • Comfort of knowing emergency plans are robust, complete and accurate.
  • Ability to have their opinions and views understood as part of the voice of the customer exercise.

Under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and associated regulations, all County and District Authorities, are charged with preparing appropriate plans to deal with a wide range of emergencies, this includes:

  • Assessing the risk of emergencies occurring
  • Putting into place emergency plans and business continuity arrangements
  • To warn and inform the public before, during and after an emergency
  • To share information with other responders
  • To cooperate with other responders to enhance coordination and efficiency
  • To promote business continuity and good resilience practice to local businesses and the voluntary sector

Members of the core project team will be representatives from two other Authorities and the University of Kent providing input for relevance to other organisations.  However, the lead applicant will also solicit feedback outside of the East Kent district during the discovery phase. Part of this feedback will include discussions on the compatibility of any digital opportunities.

There are a number of impacts that we would expect to achieve with successful funding.


  • The ability to work with a cross collaborative team, sharing best practice etc.
  • To enhance current skills set and knowledge with regards to innovation and digital that could be taken back into the workplace
  • The opportunity to engage external users of this process, including the general public
  • Gain knowledge and experience in Lean Six Sigma principles and a proven methodology for continuous improvement
  • Have available options to deploy an “alpha” project that we know addresses the root cause of the problem statement
  • Ability to identify some quick win digital improvement initiatives


  • The opportunity to deploy a better service to the community with more  timely fashion
  • The opportunity to engage external users of this process, including the general public

Tangible outputs

Publishable outputs from the continuous improvement Kaizen events, that could be reviewed by other organisations and the process replicated.  A user research report that will enable other government bodies to understand the details of the project, the journey through the discovery phase and a summary of lessons learned and recommended next steps.

Options paper for  all or part of the process and the associated benefit realisation in terms of process cycle time, cost and benefit impact to the Local Authorities.

Specifically with the aim to identify how you could automate part of the planning process and readiness through artificial intelligence via simulation and prediction of an emergency situation, with the ability to identify specific to steps within the plan to address single or multiple points of failure.

We have users that span the entire authority, strategic partners and the general public.  All representatives will be engaged as part of the discovery phase either as direct members of the project team as detailed in question 11 or  as part of the voice of the business and voice of the customer exercise to help inform the options paper.

Invaluable outputs will be improved by the use of big data sets to underpin the emergency plans after they are digitised and to begin the process of testing and improving the plans using different emergency scenarios.

Data can be derived from the many end users as part of the user research and engagement process and from other sources to improve the accuracy of the project modelling and the ways in which the emergency planning processes and outputs are improved, tested, refined and developed into robust plans and processes.

As part of the data sub-group team it would prove extremely beneficial to have access to, or support from the Local Digital Collaboration Unit to help define current data or future data opportunities.  For example, if we identify specific data points that could improve a digital option (e.g to predict conditions of an emergency situation) and can utilise the Collaboration Unit to support access this could help test the robustness of any digital solution identified and proposed within the options paper.

Neither Thanet District Council or any of the named collaborative partners have previously applied for or been granted any funding for this project.