SensorUp worked with partners as well as the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the US Department of Homeland Security to construct an incident management information sharing system.
Common Operating Picture
SensorUp’s Platform was used to support on-the-fly connection of disparate sensors in near real time (less than one second delay). The platform supported a set of rules dictating what information should be presented on screen to a given role, at a given point in time.
Display and visualization were used to communicate the relative importance of information. SensorUp’s COP dashboard presented information in a map-based portal with analytics accessible in the same screen.
A High-Stakes Portal
Emergency and disaster management is a high-stakes environment in which the situation changes rapidly and response decisions can be a matter of life or death for multitudes. Information can flood in from the varied groups tasked with managing the situation, as well as managers and observers, including police, fire, hazmat, army, private response personnel, and individual citizens. Responders need to make informed decisions on the fly, and want to receive all the necessary information to do so, without being distracted by unnecessary data. Varied departments and roles must work together, share information, and execute relief efforts based on the best available data. In emergency management, this information sharing portal is called a common operating picture (COP).
How it Works
To create a working COP, disparate datastreams must be brought together in real time, and modeled such that the information are relevant to each other. To present only the important information, rules about what is and isn’t relevant to responders must be put in place. These hide unhelpful information, and only bring to attention the critical pieces. For example: instead of tracking all personnel, each operative can be outfitted with biometrics sensors. The data exchange platform can monitor these on an ongoing basis, without outputting them all to the screen. However, if someone’s biometrics cross a critical threshold, then that person can be brought onto the screen, and called to the situation manager’s attention. In order to respond, the closest non-critical personnel can be dispatched to assist. In support of this, environmental conditions in the area can be queried to ensure it is safe to enter.
Robust geospatial capacity is also necessary to support emergency management. The situation happens in physical space, and effects propagate through it. Hazards can be carried on the wind or downstream, evacuations can be obstructed by artificial and natural barriers such as dead-ends or waterways. When dispatching personnel, it is important to know who is actually closest, rather than who is closest as the crow flies. In our earlier example, in which the nearest operative is being sent to help a fellow responder in a critical state, this is particularly important. If the closest able body is behind a wall, and must navigate a complex network such as a circuitous route through a darkened building, the fastest response may actually be achieved by sending someone who appears farther, but can reach the situation sooner via a more direct route. To know this, the system must understand network location rather than just point locations.