Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Situation awareness oriented user interface design for fire emergency response

Lili Yang, PhD, MSc, BSc, FBCS, CITP, Raj Prasanna, PhD candidate, Malcolm King, PhD, MA, FIMA, CMath


Emergency response management demands certain characteristics of the individuals involved. They need to act decisively on often little or incomplete information within tight time schedules, or, sometimes, with too much data from which it is difficult to extract key information. Procuring the right information at the right time, in the right format, and to get it to the right people is a challenge in any emergency response management system design; especially, as poor designs can lead to response systems that are not used, are ineffective, and in some cases dangerous to the emergency personnel. This article explores how situation awareness (SA) oriented design can be used for on-site emergency response system development. The end-user requirements are identified through extensive interviews with fire fighters and observations of fire emergency response training simulations. These requirements are calculated against the identified responsibilities of the core members in the first responder hierarchy. The on-site dynamic information which could be presented to emergency personnel is examined through the use of three SA levels to meet the various requirements of the first response party. Finally, an interface prototype of an information system for fire and rescue services is presented to illustrate the methods proposed in the article. Although our focus was on structural fire and fire fighters, the interface design for an onsite emergency response system proposed here is applicable for other emergency response situations as well, due to standard operating procedures.


emergency response; fire fighter; information requirement; situation awareness oriented design; graphic user interface

Full Text:



Mehrotra S, Butts C, Kalashnikov D, et al.: Project rescue: Challenges in responding to the unexpected. SPIE. 2004; 5304: 179-192.

Manoj BS, Baker AH: Communication challenges in emergency response. Commun ACM. 2007; 50(3): 51-53.

Carver L, Turoff M: Human-computer interaction: The human and computer as a team in emergency management information systems. Commun ACM. 2007; 50(3): 33-38.

Prasanna RKR,Yang L, King M: Integrated information management system model for emergency response. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Automation and Computing. Staffordshire University, England, September 2007: 59-64.

Yang L: On-site information sharing for emergency response management. J Emerg Manag. 2007; l5(5): 55-64.

Yang L, Jones BF, Yang SH: Genetic algorithm based software integration with minimum software risk. Inform Software Technol. 2006; 48: 133-141.

Turoff M: Past and future emergency response information systems. Commun ACM. 2002; 45(2): 29-32.

Jiang X, Hong JI, Takayama LA, et al.: Ubiquitous computing for firefighters: Field studies and prototypes of large displays for incident command. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Vienna, Austria, April 2004.

Endsley MR, Bolte B, Jones DG: Designing for Situation Awareness: An Approach to Human-Centred Design. London, UK: Taylor & Francis, 2003.

Endsley, MR: Design and evaluation for situation awareness enhancement. In Proceedings of the Human Factors Society 32nd Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factor Society, 1988: 97-101.

Bolstad CA, Costello AM, Endsley MR: Bad situation awareness designs: What went wrong and why. In Proceedings of the 16th World Congress of the International Ergonomics Association. Netherlands, 2006.

Fire Service Manual, Incident Command, Volume 2. Crown Copyright. UK, 1999.

Prasanna RKR: Transfer Report for the Study of Information Sharing and Management for Fire Emergency Response. Leicestershire: Business School, Lughborough University, 2008.

van de Walle B, Turoff M: Emergency response information systems: Emerging trends and technology. Commun ACM. 2007; 50(3): 29-31.

SafetyNET. Available at Accessed August, 2007.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Journal of Emergency Management