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The neXus Project: Solutions for Moving Forward at the Crossroads

It's said so frequently, it’s almost a cliche: “The fire and emergency service is at a crossroads.”

But it’s true, and it’s not a simple four-way stop. It’s high-speed shifts in an ever-increasing amount of interconnected new directions, information, technology and destinations that can be both attractive and scary at the same time.

If your jurisdiction has multiple interstates converging in it—a so-called “malfunction junction”—you’ve probably responded to enough wrecks there to know the dangers this type of environment presents.

So how does the IAFC help fire and emergency service leaders remain in the driver’s seat and on the right road for them?

Enter the neXus project.

The IAFC has spent months reframing our education and networking model, looking for new and exciting initiatives that will give back to the fire and emergency service community by helping members not only learn and find solutions, but also take an active role in developing and sharing new ideas.

What the association has developed is not really a new educational product; it’s a new concept or approach to how we develop educational products and services.

Collectively the project has been dubbed neXus—the point at which several strengths are connected together, where the sum becomes greater than the individual parts.

While the capital X symbolizes the concepts of connections and crossroads, the real strength of neXus comes from leveraging knowledge, relationships and technology to create new synergies for leadership and learning in a way that’s both more effective and more efficient.

What neXus offers:

  • Expanded regional education
  • Opportunities for more customized and personalized experiences based on individual needs
  • Additional avenues for meaningful peer-to-peer connections
  • Enhanced relationships between vendors and responders
  • Technology leveraged to enhance the user experience
  • A focus on innovation
  • Increased on-demand access to education

You won’t see a program called neXus; in fact, you may not even hear its name—but you will notice its impact. While there are new products and services emerging from the neXus project, many outcomes are new ways of enhancing traditional offerings.

Personalized Learning in a Community Environment

The neXus project provides for an individual approach. It addresses the old adage, “If you’ve seen one fire department, you’ve see one fire department,” by acknowledging the unique needs of each community while also embracing the need for shared solutions.

Using the crossroads analogy above, neXus appreciates that people are on a series of different roads leading toward different destinations—sometimes a personal goal, sometimes a department goal, sometimes a fire service goal.

The neXus framework provides flexibility to drive at your own pace. You can have some control over who and how many others are on the road with you, by participating in a webinar at your desk, attending a regional symposium or going to a national conference. Routinely, your road intersects with other roads, but not all at the same time or in the same way.

The Time Is Now!

The IAFC has already started implementing neXus offerings (see sidebar). But most IAFC members will get their first glimpse of the neXus effect at Fire-Rescue International 2011, which will begin to feature more-personalized experiences and more-dynamic engagement.

Ann Davison, CAE, is the IAFC strategic information manager.

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