Saving lives one class at a time with GeoLearnings’ SaaS model.
If terrorism strikes New Jersey, some 145,000 police, fire, and emergency personnel would be fully prepared to respond, thanks to a training program launched as part of the state’s homeland security initiative. Considered a blueprint for first-responder training elsewhere around the nation, the program was outsourced to GeoLearning, a provider of hosted performance and learning platforms and services.
The technology backbone of the program is GeoLearning’s GeoMaestro learning management platform, a full-service hosted software solution sourced through a three-year training outsourcing deal.
Created in 2001 by the Domestic Security Preparedness Act, New Jersey’s Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force is a cabinet-level body responsible for setting and implementing homeland security policy. One of the many aspects of homeland security that the Task Force has focused on is ensuring that New Jersey’s first responders have the equipment and training for mitigating or responding to a terrorist attack.
The key elements of New Jersey’s three-year, $2.6 million contract with GeoLearning are detailed student training records and assessments of individual competencies in security-related skills. The former includes attendance and performance records in a database accessed by emergency management teams when planning for and responding to disasters. In a crisis, a call can go out within minutes to responders with the necessary expertise.
The platform’s numerous assessment tools have served a variety of functions since the contract was awarded in August 2004.
“In first-responder training, the first step is to determine—from an emergency preparedness standpoint—where the state is most vulnerable,” explained JR Wymer, senior product specialist for West Des Moines, IA-based GeoLearning.
OUTSOURCING A VIRTUAL ACADEMY
The primary objective of New Jersey’s initiative is to deploy the most current disaster response training to 145,000 emergency first responders spanning 23 police academies, 18 fire academies, and 212 other training organizations. The GeoMaestro platform creates a “virtual academy” to manage student training records, identify training deficiencies, and certify training compliance and readiness among New Jersey’s municipalities and counties. The virtual academy’s course catalog lists all training available to the first responder community from a multitude of sources including colleges, the Red Cross, and local police and fire academies.
GeoLearning’s outsourced software-as-a-service model is delivered over the Internet, eliminating all the headaches, hassles, and risks associated with traditional hardware and software implementations. Accessing the system only requires an Internet connection, so employees across the state have access to the latest training and information at all times. GeoLearning also provides security and maintenance services and around-the-clock helpdesk support to administrators and employees.
The hosted platform is used to manage competencies, skills development, employee selection, and succession planning related to homeland security. The system tracks all training delivery modes including e-Learning and classroom-based, compiling attendance and performance records to create a comprehensive database upon which emergency management teams can rely to plan for and respond to disasters.
“We now have the ability to reach out to thousands of first responders in an immediate way,” says Nom Easton, a training coordinator in New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General. Capabilities include sorting training performance data at state, county, regional, and municipal levels to meet a variety of needs. The competency profiles also enable the state to certify individuals in their particular skills when necessary, he said. The reports produced from individual assessments enable managers, county supervisors and others to identify skills or overall competency health.
The assessment module contained within GeoMaestro provides a total competency, performance management and succession management solution that links individual competency gaps to learning and development and supports competency-based HR processes. The tool enables the task force to locate possible skills gaps and to perform competency-based recruiting and selection. This helps predict what the organization will look like in the future and the employee development requirements that will be necessary, enabling the state to effectively meet new
GeoLearning’s Professional Services Group is also helping the state define first-responder job profiles and behavioral and technical competencies. These profiles and competencies are managed within the provider’s competency management module and link individual competency gaps to learning and development. The result is a central repository of resources and associated skill sets for proactive selection and succession planning.