The origins of CAN grew out of the events of September 11th, 2001. This unprecedented tragedy showed clearly that making clients find their way through a web of service providers caused added confusion in an already trying time.
Some people got lost within the improvised system. Others were shuttled from appointment to appointment, having to tell their painful story time and time again.
The lessons learned in New York had a significant impact on both national and local disaster relief agencies, leading to an intensive search for a better way.
And not just a better way to deliver services to those in need, but to also help communities improve planning for natural and man-made disasters.
Galvanized by the experiences of September 11th, seven leading relief organizations joined together to form CAN. The first goal was to develop a process for centralized data collection during disaster recovery.
By creating a single, secure web site to act as a repository of client data collected by all local and national partners, resources would be maximized, duplication of services would be reduced, unmet needs would be identified and clients would be served more effectively.
Making a Difference
While this technology was still in development, a devastating series of hurricanes struck Florida in 2004, leading to the initial deployment of CAN. In short order, CAN proved its worth, storing information on 12,000 clients and 250 client communities in its database.
Fourteen local agencies quickly leveraged the CAN collaborative process and technologies. And incorporation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) database into the CAN system, gave clients access to 850 agencies and services.
But CAN is not about "off the shelf" technology. Rather, it is about technology-enabled collaboration among partners to increase cooperation that benefits everyone in a community - especially in planning for disasters.
While work continues in Florida, CAN has developed a Pilot Communities program with a dual focus. Experienced staff members from CAN partners will consult with local agencies on preparedness and response issues. Simultaneously, technical assistance in the areas of information sharing and management will help craft solutions that are right for a particular community.
Ultimately, CAN will play a vital role in helping community led preparedness and response coalitions to develop innovative solutions and enhance and maintain technological competency - all in the service of delivering the most effective relief and recovery services to those who need them most.
Begin Learning Today
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