The events of 9/11 caused an incomparable upset in the safety and security industry around the world. Then, Hurricane Katrina delivered a graphic example of how nature can overwhelm advanced preparations and still cause unanticipated problems. The SARS outbreak was yet another event that showed just how interconnected and interdependent the world really is.
Media coverage of current events has been using virtual globes for some time to display information such as the spread of disease or the location of a disaster. This demonstrates the power of presenting spatial information visually, and using mass market tools like virtual globes that most people are familiar with and can relate to.
About Emergency Management
Emergency management is about dealing with, and avoiding, risks related to natural or man-made disasters. Emergency management is a continuous process that strives to avoid or mitigate the effects of disasters through planning and preparedness. involves advanced preparation to mitigate the impact of such events, preparing for and responding to a crisis event, and support for recovery afterwards. Activities start at the individual or local level, and responsibility escalates to higher level organizations or governments as resources are exhausted or as the scale of the disaster increases.
Galdos Systems undertook a project for GeoConnections that looked at leveraging mass market tools (such as Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth) to provide a familiar interface for people who were not trained in working with specialized location-based software. By extending the familiar interface, less training is required for users, and applications can be developed for general public use.
Common Operational Picture
A common operational picture is an important aspect of emergency management. It involves sharing the identical display of relevant information between all people, groups, and organizations that need it. In addition to emergency management, common operational pictures are also found in aviation, military, and other complex environments to facilitate collaboration, planning, and decision-making. In such environments, it is critical that everyone is working from the same information, and that updates are propagaged to everyone involved in a timely manner.
Galdos Systems, with it’s partner company, Envitia, worked on a military version of a common operational picture for the UK Ministry of Defence, involving research into the viability of a Geospatial Intelligence Integrated Reference Architecture (GI2RA).
An aspect of emergency management closely related to a common operational picture is situational awareness. This is particularly important when more than one agency is involved. Decision-makers can use information coming from multiple sources such as sensors and weather services to assess and respond to critical situations and emergencies. Situational awareness depends on consistent and standardized information about a situation or location being available to everyone involved, and often requires real-time updates to maintain the accuracy of the data.
Technology and standardized data improve the interconnectedness of emergency responders, allowing location-based information to be efficiently shared between Multi-Agency Situational Awareness Systems (MASAS). Interoperability standards, such as the Common Alerting Protocol (and the Canadian Profile for the Common Alerting Profile) and the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), significantly increase the ease of sharing information between all the systems involved.
The national vision of a “seamless emergency management” capability relies on interoperable communication because it is critical to enabling situational awareness and facilitating coordinated response planning and execution. The study is part of an overarching initiative to improve multi-agency information management capabilities, and to suggest new approaches to facilitate such critical information exchange across separate and distinct domains.
Galdos Systems has been involved in a study to recommend a standard for Canadian civil responder agencies and supporting military units to be better able to exchange information efficiently when working together during crisis response operations. The study demonstrates that NIEM is the information sharing framework of choice for the Law Enforcement community and that it also supports the Emergency Management domain. NIEM fulfills all the requirements identified by the community and offers a model that can easily be adapted to the Canadian context.
How Galdos Can Help
Galdos technologies can provide a barrier between open public systems and secured emergency management systems. By providing a secure pipeline, valid and necessary information can be promoted securely to the protected system, while allowing the timely dispersal of information back out to the public.
Galdos INtune™ SDI Framework can be used to extend existing emergency management systems. INtune provides a secure and controlled connection to the emergency management system so that approved content can be promoted, and information from the emergency management centre can be broadcast back to the public.
Contact Galdos Systems to learn more about our work in this sector.