Mobile Technology Supported Disaster Response in Oklahoma According to Engineering Professor and Ergonomics Expert Dr. Pamela McCauley Bush
The use of mobile devices has revolutionized the way the emergency management community prepares, communicates and responds to natural and man-made disasters, significantly increasing the efficiency, rate and accuracy of communication. The excellent decisions made in the minutes leading up to, during and immediately after the Oklahoma tornadoes were clearly supported by quality information and the use of mobile communication technologies.
Orlando, FL (PRWEB) May 30, 2013
The horrific and devastating nature of the EF-5 tornadoes that struck Oklahoma City and Moore with little warning and time for preparation were seen, heard and essentially “experienced” by the world in real-time on May 20th. The use of mobile devices has revolutionized the way the emergency management community prepares, communicates and responds to natural and man-made disasters, significantly increasing the efficiency, rate and accuracy of communication.
According to Karlyn Carnahan, an analyst with Novarica, “The impact of the devastating storms was mitigated through the use of mobile technology which saved many lives as the emergency alert system has switched largely to cell phones, giving people time to find shelter.” The excellent decisions made in the minutes leading up to, during and immediately after the Oklahoma tornadoes were clearly supported by quality information and the use of mobile communication technologies.
This is consistent with research by the University of Central Florida Human Factors in Disaster Management Team that has demonstrated areas where mobile devices have been instrumental in improving communication during emergency response and an increased reliance on mobile communication devices among emergency managers and citizens. The integrated use of these devices has been effective in decreasing the likelihood of “black outs” in communication.
The EM community is beginning to adapt response processes to include the use of photos, videos and text messages in decision making during a high consequence disaster. The most commonly used activities for smart phones is changing as the devices are no longer used solely for voice communication. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU 2010), mobile cellular technology is the most rapidly adopted technology in history.
Due to the high resilience and global use of wireless communication devices, it is important that the selection and use of these devices is strategically optimized in order to improve information exchange between emergency management officials and the general population.
The UCF HFDM research conducted in 2010 resulted in the development of a mathematical model that can be used to evaluate mobile devices for use by emergency managers and/or first responders. The UCF HFDM 2010 study also revealed a need for devices that require little cognitive and physical effort, screens that are compatible with varying lighting conditions and that have considerable durability. In physical interaction with the device, it was determined that it is important for devices to have better grips to minimize slippage to lessen the likelihood of devices being blown or pulled from the users´ hands; as well as better portability through smaller devices, but not devices that are so small text entry is adversely impacted.
The primary characteristics associated with successful device use in emergency management include
- ability for accurate text entry
- highly visible screens in a variety of environmental conditions
- texture/grips that reduce likelihood of device separation from the user
- interfaces that are compatible with other forms of communication (i.e. desktop computers in an Emergency Operations Center).
The results from research by the UCF Human Factors in Disaster Management Research team will be used as the basis for a human-centered mobile device selection methodology for emergency management officials and first responders.
Dr. Pamela McCauley Bush is a nationally recognized speaker, entrepreneur, author and tenured Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida where she leads the Human Factors in Disaster Management Research Team. She is also the Chief Technology Officer of Bush Enterprises, specializing in engineering, technology and manufacturing services. Dr. Bush has the distinction of being a 2012 U.S. Fulbright Scholar Specialist Program Awardee for her US-New Zealand Human Engineering and Mobile Technology in High Consequence Emergency Management program. She is the author of Ergonomics: Foundational Principles, Applications, and Technologies and Transforming Your STEM Career Through Leadership and Innovation.
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