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Rescue coordination common operating picture: Enhancement through satellite technology

Leo T. Danaher, MS, Erik Wood, MS, Tim Frazier, PhD


Natural hazards and human-made disasters are increasing in magnitude and frequency due to climate change. The increase in response assets across agencies is complicating synchronization and communication during lifesaving operations. Technological advancements in wireless communication systems are improving resource tasking, tracking, and awareness but are vulnerable to interruption from the destruction inflicted by natural hazards. However, satellite technology offers solutions to safeguard lifesaving coordination in austere environments. Through a focused review of the relevant literature and policy documents, this study analyzes disaster response command and control, emerging communication capabilities, and satellite technology related to developing a common operating picture for all actors. The aim is to provide practicing emergency managers with the means to overcome communication gaps in wireless and satellite technology to maintain this common picture, save lives in the wake of disasters, and protect emergency responders during hazardous mass rescue operations. Results indicate that communication technology does aid emergency managers in the highly pressurized response environment but the systems being relied upon are themselves vulnerable to disasters. The existing literature also establishes that response actors are leveraging satellite technology to fill gaps in communications connectivity during disasters to reduce risk, which has both national and international implications.


common operating picture, emergency management, GIS, satellite, hazard mitigation

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