The New York State Wireless Enhanced 9-1-1 Project has yielded a number of worthwhile lessons learned with regard to identifying and keeping stakeholders involved. Stakeholder involvement is very important, and the following experience highlights the importance of getting stakeholders involved to increase the chances of project success.
- Identify the key stakeholders.
- Building a workable WE 9-1-1 infrastructure requires involving and identifying many stakeholder groups with varying and often competing interests. These major stakeholder groups include: county government and county associations (e.g., county administrators, sheriffs); municipal associations; law enforcement agencies; emergency medical service (EMS) practitioners (EMS organizations, firefighters); the medical community (emergency physicians, trauma surgeons, cardiologists); public health and other non-profit organizations (e.g., American Heart Association); state organizations (e.g., state technology/telecommunications organization, state departments of transportation, public health); highway authorities; politicians (state and local); and industry (e.g., wireless carriers, manufacturers, ITS technology providers) and others.
- Get the stakeholders engaged.
- To ensure that the stakeholders are actively engaged in the process, it was helpful to ask representatives of the relevant groups for names of individuals who should be involved. When developing a WE 9-1-1 implementation strategy for NY State, criteria used included identifying people who were interested and have shown passion about 9-1-1 issues. The project leaders also found it valuable to include a variety of perspectives within the stakeholder groups. For example, when dealing with industry it was important to get engineers' as well as lawyers' viewpoints.
- Keep the stakeholders engaged.
- Keeping stakeholders engaged is critical. To keep stakeholders involved, project leaders need to make it clear why they are involved in the project. Similarly, project leaders also have to be able to anticipate stakeholder concerns and issues and address them proactively. For example, when formulating a strategy for the WE 9-1-1 system in NY State, there was a lot of resistance, particularly at the beginning before the benefits of cooperation were apparent. The project leaders (who were part of the medical community) thought that they needed to be prepared to address stakeholders' questions of "Why am I here? What's in it for me?" Instead the project leaders were surprised to be asked, "Why are you getting involved?" and "Why do you think you can help?" Almost universally, the project leaders’ initial contacts with stakeholders uncovered concern that the medical communities’ involvement, if unexplained, could derail the WE 9-1-1 project. Few stakeholders saw any benefit to medical community involvement and couldn't foresee how medical professionals’ "patient advocacy" stance would be a benefit. However, as project leaders, medical communities' persistence toward remaining "objective patient care advocates" and "neutral conduits of information" as part of the medical leadership approach, helped to settle the apprehensions of the stakeholders.
This lesson suggests that stakeholders’ involvement is very important to creating an implementation strategy for new safety-oriented systems, in this case a Wireless Enhanced 9-1-1 system (WE 9-1-1). As described above, fostering stakeholder involvement entails a three-step process including identifying the stakeholders, getting the stakeholders engaged, and keeping the stakeholders engaged. Getting stakeholders involved and engaged can help help to increase the chances of successfully implementing a Wireless Enhanced 9-1-1 system, as well as other ITS systems.
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