multiple organizations establish full, efficient interoperability.43 At this point, all participants should be able to communicate with critical teams and get essential information in a timely and efficient manner. Critical central decisions should flow smoothly downward. Similarly, low-level urgent requests for communication, assistance, or information should flow upward to the appropriate agency and then back to the appropriate operatives.44 Interactions take place among responders and between responders and the public; people who have not worked closely with one another are suddenly brought together under demanding circumstances, yet they are expected to interact well.45

In most actual cases, however, these “phases” do not proceed so smoothly. Research is clearly needed on transitioning from the initial, unit-specific, ad hoc structure to an interoperable, systemwide structure and in a graceful manner, with zero or minimal disruption of function during that transfer.46 This complex problem requires study both by technologists and social scientists: The technologies must be easy enough to use so that they complement the users rather than distract them from their missions, and the technologies of different responders must complement each other as well (or at least not clash).47

Thus research is also needed for defining low-level communication protocols and developing generic technology that can facilitate interconnection and interoperation of diverse information resources.48 One example of research is the development of software-programmable waveforms that can (in principle) allow a single radio to interoperate with a variety of different wireless communications protocols.49 A second example is an architecture for communications, perhaps for selected mission areas, that translates agency-specific information into formats and semantics compatible with a global system.50

Emergency Management of Communications Capacity

In an emergency, extraordinary demands are placed on communications capacity. A disaster is likely to destroy some but not all of the communications infrastructure in a given area, leaving some residual capability. Meanwhile, the disaster provokes greater demands for communication from the general public. The result is often a denial-of-service condition for all, including emergency-

43  

CSTB (1996), p. 21.

44  

CSTB (1999a), pp. 25-26.

45  

CSTB (1999a), pp. 30, 32.

46  

CSTB (1999a), p. 26.

47  

CSTB (1999a), pp. 50, 84; and CSTB (1996), p. 33.

48  

CSTB (1999a), p. 85

49  

CSTB (1997).

50  

See CSTB (1999c) for a discussion of mission slices and working the semantic interoperability problem.



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