a real, recognized need and not purchased with the goal of finding a
need for the tool or technology. Once the need for a tool or technology is realized, the next step is to determine if purchase is actually
necessary. This decision is driven by cost, the amount of time that
the tool or technology is needed, the importance of rapid response,
and the ability to obtain the tool or technology when needed.
Once these are addressed, begin by identifying organizations
and agencies that may already possess the tool or technology.
If the item is not used frequently or it is not needed in a critical time period, consider establishing a relationship where the
organization can borrow, rent, or share the cost of the item. This
reduces the cost to both parties while addressing the weakness
in the response agency. If no other agency or organization has
what is needed and the same time and use criteria apply, consider
approaching organizations that may also be able to use the tool
and seek opportunities to enter joint purchasing and use agreements. This will expand not only the capabilities of the response
organization but also organizations that may put the technology to use. For example, fire departments may use geographic
information system mapping software to identify hazard areas
and develop response plans, but property assessors, tax offices,
dispatch centers, law enforcement, nongovernmental organizations, and schools also use software in their operations. By
combining purchase and use, the cost is reduced and the number
of individuals who can use the product increases, allowing the use
of the software during periods of high output, such as mapping
the impact of a disaster or large-scale incident, thereby improving
services to the community during initial response and recovery.
If sharing is not an option, intermittent lease or contracting
the technology or tool may be an option. Having the ability to
quickly order up resources that are rarely used when they are
needed allows response agencies to meet the needs of the incident
while efficiently managing public funds. This technique is often
used during structural collapse incidents. Rescue companies
typically carry enough lumber to begin initial operations with
preestablished contracts with hardware stores, building supply companies, and lumber yards for the quick deployment of
large amounts of lumber when the need arises. This allows the
departments to meet the gap in lumber through preplanning and
relationship building before the incident occurs.
IS IT NECESSARY?
Before purchase, research should be conducted to determine if
the tool or technology is the best fit for the gap. Research should
include contacting other users to identify strengths and limitations, identifying the full range of capabilities of the proposed
purchase, and determining if the purchase is the best fit for the
problem. Other organizations that have purchased the proposed
product will be able to identify strengths and weaknesses as well
as provide an estimate of initial and ongoing costs associated
with the item. It is critical that ongoing maintenance, personnel
costs, and replacement costs be identified and factored in when
determining which product is most appropriate.
Once the tool or technology has been determined to be an
appropriate fit, identify if it can perform any other tasks. Tools
and technology can often meet other needs and, when purchas-