Characterizing the Functionality of Regional Networks for Emergency Responders

To develop mechanisms for coordinating emergency-response activities, it is necessary to understand what the various communications and computer networks of emergency responders in a given region are supposed to do. For example, managers from different agencies often speak different “languages” in describing their needs, capabilities, and operational priorities; a common conceptual framework for these purposes would be enormously helpful for coordination of planning activities, yet one is not yet available.68 Sharing of information among the various providers of critical infrastructure and emergency-response agencies, even about common tasks and processes, has been a rather uncommon activity in the past.

Recommendation 5.8: IT and C3I Research

  • Understand how to transition gracefully and with minimal disruption from a unit-specific communication system to a systemwide structure.

  • Define new communication protocols and develop generic technology to facilitate interconnection and interoperation of diverse information sources.

  • Develop approaches for communication systems to handle surge capacity and function in a saturated state.

  • Develop methods to provide more capacity for emergency communication and coordination.

  • Create self-adaptive networks that can reconfigure themselves as a function of damage and changes in demand and that can degrade gracefully.

  • Understand the special security needs of rapidly deployed wireless networks.

  • Develop decision-support tools to assist the crisis manager in making decisions based on incomplete information.

  • Explore mechanisms to provide information tailored to specific individuals or locations through location-based services.

  • Establish more effective means of communicating the status of affected people to those outside the disaster area.

  • Develop robust sensors and underlying architectural concepts to track and locate survivors as well as to identify and track the spread of contaminants.


Christen, Hank, et al., “An Overview of Incident Management,” Perspectives on Preparedness, No. 4, September 2001, available online at <>.

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