Abstract: Emergency situations occur unpredictably and cause individuals and organizations to shift their focus and attention immediately to dealing with the situation. When disasters become large in scale all the limitations resulting from a lack of integration and collaboration among all the involved organizations begin to expose themselves and further compound the negative consequences of the event. Often in large scale disasters the people who must work together have no history of doing so, they have not developed a trust or understanding of one another’s abilities, and the totality of resources they each bring to bear were never before exercised. As a result, the challenges for individual or group decision support systems (DSS) in emergency situations are diverse and immense. In this chapter, we present recent advances in this area and highlight important remaining challenges.
Abstract: One of the major ICIS valorization efforts in 2006 concerned the dissemination of ICIS’ results to the Gemeente Borsele (in the Province of Zeeland, The Netherlands). DECIS Lab and Gemeente Borsele have jointly conducted empirical research in the context of a crisis management exercise for Gemeente Borsele. DECIS Lab was involved to set up the crisis management exercise experiment and according measurements regarding an improvement in internal communication at Gemeente Borsele. The major objectives of DECIS Lab (collect crisis data, acquire domain knowledge, discover feasibility) and Gemeente Borsele (improve internal communication, and involve entire internal crisis management organization) were mostly achieved. This report contains our evaluation as a whole together with specific results, as presented to Gemeente Borsele.
Abstract: Knowledge management systems (KMS) are designed to support and enhance the process of creating, storing, retrieving and transferring knowledge. In this contribution we investigate the use of such systems for the acquisition of knowledge in humanitarian disaster response teams. First, we present a framework describing how KMS should enhance group process gains and alleviate group process losses, and create an effective learning environment for successfully supporting the acquisition of knowledge. Second, we describe ongoing research on the acquisition of knowledge in the Belgian humanitarian response team (B-FAST, for Belgian First Aid and Support Team) that uses Microsoft Groove as knowledge management system before, during and after their missions. Initial findings are presented based on participant observation and interviews of the B-FAST team during a large humanitarian exercise, along with plans for future research.
Abstract: Humans primarily assess situations and plan for actions by (implicit) scenario-based analysis. Decision making in crisis management situations in The Netherlands unfortunately does not explicitly feature scenario-based analysis; not within teams nor between teams. In this article we formulate conditions for successful application of scenario-based analysis, based on our experiences in crisis management and crisis management exercises. The conditions are formulated and briefly assessed in a number of cases. An important implication for information systems support is identified and future research is announced.
Abstract: The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) system is designed to assist the United Nations in providing information during the first phase of a sudden-onset emergency and in the coordination of incoming international relief at the site of the emergency. In the immediate aftermath of such an emergency, the UNDAC team will set up an On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) from where the operational activities of the humanitarian organizations responding to the emergency are coordinated. Information management is a key aspect in this phase as the information gathering, processing, and disseminating activities will determine the timeliness and appropriateness of the response by the international humanitarian community. Through participatory observation in the international humanitarian “TRIPLEX” exercise we explore how information managers in the OSOCC make sense of the disaster, how the immediate needs are assessed, and discuss how information systems could improve Sensemaking in these activities.
Abstract: Conducting empirical research involves a balancing act between scientific rigor and real-life pragmatics. The Delft Co-operation on Intelligent Systems (D-CIS) laboratory researches systems-of-systems consisting of the human and artificial systems involved in collaborative decision-making under chaotic circumstances. An important objective is the usefulness of our results in our major application domain: crisis management. The D-CIS lab was involved in setting up a crisis management exercise experiment and the according measurements regarding an improvement in internal communication at Gemeente (Municipality) Borsele. In this paper, the empirical research regarding this experiment, the methodology and its results are briefly outlined. The main lessons learned concern the interrelationship between the scenario, experiment and measurements, the problem of acquiring usable data and the challenges of conducting grounded research.
Abstract: Conducting empirical research involves a balancing act between scientific rigor and real-life pragmatics. DECIS Lab researches systems-of-systems, consisting of humans and artificial systems involved in collaborative decision making under chaotic circumstances. An important objective is the usefulness of our results to our major application domain: crisis management. DECIS Lab was involved to set up a crisis management exercise experiment and according measurements regarding an improvement in internal communication at Gemeente (Municipality) Borsele. In this paper the empirical research regarding this experiment, the methodology and its results are briefly outlined. Our main lessons learned concern the interrelationship between scenario, experiment and measurements; the problem of acquiring usable data; and the challenges of conducting grounded research.
Abstract: Research suggests opposing alertness effects of mental effort and physical effort: mental effort seems to decrease and physical effort appears to increase subjective alertness. There are indications, however, that physical exercise also leads to feelings of lowered alertness. The well-known multidimensional Thayer alertness scale does not seem to assess physical alertness properly. New items were added to the original scale; these were expected to form a physical factor of subjective alertness. In part 1 of this study, participants filled in the revised Thayer scale before and after a control condition and conditions of physical and mental exercise. Physical exercise only increased feelings of physical fatigue, not of alertness. Mental effort increased feelings of sleepiness. In part 2, a Factor analysis was performed on a larger data set in order to validate the use of a separate physical factor. Indeed, a separate physical factor was found. Besides this physical factor, the analysis revealed the factors “sleepiness”, “calmness”, and “tension”, which have originally been described by Thayer. In conclusion, physical alertness is different from mental alertness. Therefore, an explicit physical factor is required in subjective alertness scales.