tional practices to best employ those technologies. Accordingly, this report also examines mechanisms to facilitate the development and effective use of IT.

Short-Term Opportunities to Use IT

Although the committee believes that investment in IT research and development (R&D) for disaster management should be guided in the long run by a comprehensive, stakeholder-driven roadmap (see below), it also sees opportunities for short-term investment in a number of specific areas that would yield significant benefits. The committee heard of many instances in which responders were able to make use of readily available technology—either provided by their organizations or acquired personally—that proved valuable during a disaster. The network effects associated with many of these technologies can create a critical mass of users that provides a potential point of interoperability and cooperation across agencies. For example, ad hoc use of 802.11x wireless capabilities in laptops carried by some first responders, peer-to-peer use of Land Mobile Radio System (LMRS) radios, and use of Family Radio Service/General Mobile Radio Service “walkie-talkies” all can help to provide communications even when the communications infrastructure is damaged. Such technology options may already be in the hands of users but may not be deployed in disasters because policies and procedures for their use are not in place.

Other examples of “low-hanging fruit” include the following:

  • Use of sensors, wikis (editable Web sites), blogs, and data-mining tools to capture, analyze, and share lessons learned from operational experiences;

  • Use of database, Web, and call center technologies to establish a service to provide information about available equipment, materiel, volunteers, and volunteer organizations;

  • Use of planning, scheduling, task allocation, and resource management tools to help in formulating disaster management plans and tracking execution of the plans and to ensure timely recognition of problems and associated follow-up decision making; and

  • Use of deployable cell phone technology to rapidly establish stand-alone communications capabilities for use in disasters where local infrastructure is damaged.

To exploit such short-term opportunities involves identifying them, establishing policies and procedures for their use, and providing training to users.

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