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Information Acquisition

Several research topics were described to improve acquisition of better information for use in responding to crises. One challenge is discrepancies between the data stored in crisis responders' geographical information system (GIS) databases and the ''ground truth." For example, crisis responders may have access to rough, outdated information on storage facilities of hazardous materials but may lack up-to-date, detailed information about what kind of material a particular building contains, even though such information is known to the operator of an industrial facility. New data management paradigms are needed that would permit geographically and administratively distributed GIS repositories to operate with one another in a more seamless and transparent fashion.1

Improving the collection of both input and response data during (rather than only after) a crisis is obviously important for keeping crisis responders informed during a crisis. In addition, mining the data after the event would facilitate formulating improved response plans for future crises by determining which response measures and mitigation efforts were effective. Such data sets would be invaluable in validating and improving the quality of crisis models.

Integration and Interoperability

Integration of information from a variety of sources and organizations is a fundamental issue facing crisis responders. Requirements for integrating data are not uniform—the requirements for speed, completeness, and quality of the information and the integration among organizations all vary depending on the phase and location of the crisis. Early in the response to a crisis, integration must proceed rapidly, often in an ad hoc fashion. Describing a California Department of Forestry incident management team that manages large incidents including fires, floods, and earthquake, Thomas O'Keefe observed at the workshop that these teams must be able to go anywhere at a half-hour's notice and must manage the up-to-several-thousand crisis responders arriving within 24 to 36 hours. Just getting this number of people to an incident quickly is a major challenge that represents only the first part of the problem. Integrating them for optimal performance is much more complex. Integration efforts must extend both vertically within an organization and horizontally among organizations—sometimes across a large number of organizations. Response to a major crisis in the United States, for in-

1The Open GIS Consortium, with participation from government and industry, is working to develop standards for such sharing of geographical data.

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