It is vital to have concise and unified messaging to the public in emergencies. Since it is typical to have multiple agencies or organizations involved in responding to these critical events, it is imperative that the information they release to the community would be uniform and timely. Joint Information Centers (JICs) are created to effectively consolidate efforts by all teams involved in responding to these emergencies.
What Are Joint Information Centers (JICs)?
Joint information Centers are dedicated working locations, whether it is physical or virtual, where multiple agencies and organizations working in a specific emergency collectively coordinate and release official information to the public. These locations serve as a hub of communication for all parties involved to ensure that they effectively communicate with one another in their emergency response and current situation and consolidate such information for the proper announcement to the public.
What is the Importance of Joint Information Centers?
Effective communication with the public is vital to ensure community safety and awareness in a state of emergency. By establishing strong community communications, emergency responders can effectively fulfill their goals through the public’s understanding, assistance, and cooperation. Through the establishment of JICs, community and inter-agency communications can be strengthened to ensure that everybody is aligned with the current situation, planned response, and efforts made by each member.
How Are Joint Information Centers Organized and Their Functions?
Generally, three significant teams form a JIC. These teams are the Research Team, Media Operations Team, and Logistics Team. Each of these teams has a specific role within JICs but collectively works to avail the centers to function efficiently and effectively.
This team is responsible for preparing all communications and media-related matters, including but not limited to news releases, daily summaries, media advisories, fact sheets, public service announcements, and articles. This team is dedicated to gathering all information from agencies and other sources to provide relevant information to other teams and the public.
This team is the front line for answering and responding to media calls, public and media inquiries, news coverage, organizing news conferences, and monitoring public opinions. Another essential function of this team is to keep the media abreast with background information on the latest response activities.
The Logistics Team supervises all operational and administrative activities to ensure that all JIC functions operate smoothly and efficiently. This group oversees the staffing, inter-office communications, and the operation’s translation/multilingual needs.
In addition to the three main teams of the JICs, they all eventually fall under the Lead Public Information Officer and a designated JIC Facility Liaison.
The Lead Public Information Officer (PIO) is the JIC’s managing head. They serve as an advisor to the agency authorities based on the information gathered by the JIC. The PIO is also responsible for obtaining approval of any statements released to the public from the respective authoritative bodies and making an informed and strategic direction of communication policy.
The JIC Facility Liaison serves as a bridge to coordinate the communication between the JIC organization and the teams in the field attending to the response and recovery operation.