Challenges to Decision Support in Emergency Management
The aim of decision support is to enable agencies to detect and report incidents automatically. Decision support also helps agencies adapt their resource allocation and dispatch approaches. As you well know, though, it’s never that easy. What are the main challenges to decision support in emergency management, and how to overcome them?
Challenges to decision support in emergency management escalate
Indeed, key to decision support is the collecting, analysis, and understanding of historical inefficiencies, through the creation of data models. Those data models, however, cluster together diverse, event-specific data sources, particularly in the context of increasing numbers of multi-agency responses.
Agencies must also develop incident forecasting models that (1) can generalize across large geographic areas, (2) have high spatial-temporal resolution, and (3) handle high data sparsity.
And that’s complicated by the fact that agencies must respond to daily incidents and large-scale disasters, alike. The challenge, there, is that decision support capabilities needed to deal with these two types of events vary greatly.
Disasters will often knock out communications. Meanwhile, agencies will still need forecasts over fine spatial and temporal resolutions. Learning incident prediction models at high resolutions, however, is extremely difficult due to data sparsity.
How digital dashboards can help overcome the challenges to decision support in emergency management
Nor is that the end of the challenges to decision support in emergency management.
Achieving situational awareness – one of the most important response tasks –requires information from lots of different data sources. But those sources are often noisy.
Integrating noisy data sources into real-time incident detection models is complex.
With all of those challenges (and more) affecting the delivery of effective decision support in emergency management, agencies often inquire what can be done?
Fortunately, digital dashboard capabilities within emergency and disaster management software can help.
But not all platforms are created equal. Platform capabilities to consider include the following:
- Follow your own processes or use best practices. With graphical drag-and-drop designers, you should be able to create or modify dashboards, data models, forms, charts, templates, and workflows, without a single line of code. Platform capabilities should also expand as you need them, even during an incident.
- Coordination among teams. An emergency management platform should also let you work in a digital “room” of your EOC, as well. There, dashboard and collaboration spaces should be provided for your emergency teams, such as command, operations, planning, and logistics. Even more, it must be easy to set up new dashboards with just the tools your team needs.
- Maintain situational awareness. Finally, consider platforms designed around Esri ArcGIS that work to help teams create a common operating picture via field personnel updates, GIS feeds, data import, email, and social media.
You will thereby be able to incorporate Esri ArcGIS, WMS, KML, GeoJSON, and/or other sources to view asset locations in the context of weather threats and critical infrastructure.
Need to update feature layers on your own ArcGIS server with platform data? You should be able to do that, too. All relevant data sources should be able to be fed into comprehensive dashboards; and you should be able to incorporate additional tools from across the internet at any time, as well.
Of course, that only scratches the surface of software capabilities needed to overcome the challenges to decision support in emergency management. For more, download our free guide, The Importance of Digital Dashboards for Decisions Support in Emergency Management.