Interactive. If that’s not a word that comes to mind when you think of your organization’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan, or Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP), you might be missing something. And, that something could be setting you back.

Jeff Byrd, Associate Administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery for FEMA, seems to agree. He recently told the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) that such plans need to be more “interactive.” So, what does that mean exactly?

For BOLDplanning, it means EOPs, COOPs, HMPs, and even other facility-based plans, should not be simply written, placed in a binder and then set on a shelf to gather dust. They should be “living documents” that plan participants and other stakeholders have secure and continuous access to. They should intuitively guide plan participants through the planning process (almost like an “answer machine”) helping them fill in the blanks; plus automatically remind them when updates are needed or plan versions have changed.

But perhaps most importantly, interactive plans should allow for the dynamic flow of information between plan sections or even other plans. For example, changes made in one section of your EOP should automatically flow over to your COOP (and vice versa), saving you precious time and helping ensure your organization’s plan(s) are always current and actionable.

Interactive plans may be a relatively new concept to the emergency preparedness community, but it’s one that’s taking hold. FEMA clearly sees the need, as do state and local operations across the country. Fortunately, for those who are utilizing the platform and leveraging the