goal of such a system would be to enable individuals to make independent decisions in ways that ultimately support safety and survivability.
The group’s system design included three networked components: a centralized information repository; role-specific clients (e.g., the Red Cross or emergency food relief programs) that both “push” data into the repository and “pull” information to facilitate decision making; and a scenario simulator that could explore and evaluate feasibility for various interventions. Robots that explore areas unreachable by (or unsafe for) humans following an eruption could also be system “clients.” By exploring numerous scenarios in advance, the simulator could be used before a disaster to help design evacuation and responder protocols and after a disaster to help plan and manage search and rescue operations in real time. The group also designed the “iVolcano app” to facilitate interactions between the information repository and the humans, agents, and robots that use it. Thus, through iVolcano, people who are affected by the eruption could obtain critical information, such as where to find food, medical supplies, shelter, and water and where to charge their cell phones.
Goodrich also indicated that too much information can sometimes be as dangerous as too little in a major disaster—for example, if hundreds of people learned at approximately the same time where food was available, a stampede could ensue. The group saw two other potential problems: (1) many people would not willingly “push” information to a centralized data repository, either because of interagency tensions or possible concerns over privacy or trust, and (2) the system would need a method for differentiating the meanings of critical words. For example, water means “fire suppressor” to a fireman but something completely different to a nurse. Thus it would help if different word usages are mapped to a common ontology so that, in a time-critical situation, the person seeking information from the server isn’t overwhelmed by irrelevant information.
The group suggested that by year two it would be possible to put into operation a “thin” server capable of integrating a lot of the information that already exists. Although this achievement would not be “earthshaking” (no pun intended, said Goodrich), it could be useful. The group thought that in years three to five it would be possible to deploy the interactive planning simulator tool. Several of the client programs would likely take longer to develop.
Scenario B: Small-Lot Agile Manufacturing
Moderator: Matthias Scheutz
Group members: Tal Oron-Gilad, Don Mottaz, Gopal Ramchurn, Matthias Scheutz, Lakmal Seneviratne, Brian Williams
Description: George owns a small furniture company that builds one-of-akind furniture for its customers. As such piecemeal work negates economies of scale, he needs another way to generate profits. George retains the developers