Mobile tools for GDACS on the move

 

In line with the strategy of GDACS to disseminate content on multiple channels in order to reach as many professional responders as possible, several mobile tools have been developed in the past years.

iGDACS is a mobile app that allows you to get the latest GDACS alerts and key statistics right on your iPhone or iPad. In addition, it allows you to provide feedback on GDACS events, which is - after moderation - communicated to the GDACS community (http://i.gdacs.org).

This is available for all GDACS alerts, including Green alerts. Note that this is an experimental service. All feedback is welcome (situation awareness, operational feedback, scientific observations, etc.) except for requests for assistance. GDACS will not respond to messages.

Asign/Geo-Pictures

Fully operational crowd-source app dedicated to provide automatically geo-located photos and text messages designed to perform over both low and high bandwidths. The tools is available on iOS platform (iPhone) and Android. Simply scan the relevant QR code above to install the free app on your smartphone.

By installing the free “UN-ASIGN”, users will have the possibility to take and upload photos with automatic inclusion of geographic coordinates and direction the photo was taken, accompanied with textual information if wanted, to a server hosted by UNOSAT at CERN.

Individuals can then log onto the website, asign.cern.ch, to see their own photos and a map showing where these were taken. One can also request additional higher resolution versions of the photos, or subsets thereof, share and manage one’s collection as needed. The app is designed to work over low bandwidths as well as during off-line conditions.

During major disasters, and when users have set their app to normal mode (as opposed to the default test-mode), UNITAR/UNOSAT will incorporate the feeds into its production cycle to both validate satellite image derived information such as flood extent, but also to create automatic feeds into operational coordination systems such as GDACS VirtualOSOCC, operated by UN OCHA.

Read more about UN-ASIGN for iOS: http://itunes.apple.com/app/un-asign/id507125097?mt=8

Read more about UN-ASIGN for Android: http://www.unitar.org/unosat/node/22/1429

GDACSmobile

The GDACSmobile project is a cooperation of the Information Systems Department of the University of Münster and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) set by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.

The goal of the project is to create a mobile application (collectively referred to as "GDACSmobile") for information exchange and coordination support in the first phase after a major sudden-onset disaster. To accomplish this goal, GDACSmobile will be implemented for a selected number of mobile platforms.

The client will be supported by a server application which is responsible for data retrieval, storage and analysis while the client is primarily used for accessing content and sharing/updating information. In this context, the development team is mainly compromised of project seminar participants at the Chair for Information Systems and Supply Chain Management (University of Münster) while professional support concerning requirements, preconditions and restrictions is provided by the JRC.

The project was run from January to June 2012. The application is experimental and therefore not available on public App stores. At the 2013 ISCRAM conference, University of Münster and JRC organized a Hands-on interdisciplinary Workshop “GDACSmobile” – Mobile Applications and Social Media in Crisis Management, where GDACSMobile and other technologies were compared.

Links and documents:

GDACSmobile Functional specification 2.0
GDACSmobile Technical Documentation
GDACSmobile User Guide
GDACSmobile: Providing More Ground Truth to the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, Conference Proceedings of ISCRAM 2013.

Interoperability of Mobile Technology for Field Operations

Field assessment technology is mature in the sense that many different solutions exist, developed and maintained by private or public organisations. However, its use by emergency management organisations is not pervasive.

The search for the ideal tool that meets all the user's (changing) needs can hamper a decision to adopt the technology.
Two issues are critical, and need a coordinated effort of technology providers and users:

  • Increase of efficiency
    Many experiments, exercises and research projects have demonstrated the advantages of mobile assessment technology, including gains in time and accuracy for collecting data. Nevertheless, recent controlled experiments have shown that this does not necessarily lead to efficiency gains. Only an improved efficiency in the analysis of information and subsequent briefing summaries will convince organisations to adopt the technology. There is a need to further develop the technology, align it with existing standard operating procedures and training programmes and demonstrate efficiency gains.

  • Interoperability
    In most phases of a crisis (including preparedness, response and reconstruction), organisations in the field do not act alone. To avoid duplication of efforts and waste of resources, there is a need to collaborate tightly, also in the field of assessment. Experiments have shown that mobile technology is mostly interoperable at a technical level (using data standards like KML). However, this is not sufficient to share information in an effective way. Semantic interoperability is essential, as is the capacity of the coordinating actor (e.g. headquarters or OSOCC) to curate, filter, manipulate, edit and delete assessment information of all actors. Technology and procedures to organise this process are essential for a more coordinated response.

Related tools and research projects

iGDACS
The iGDACS iPhone App provides users real-time information about disasters (GDACS Alerts) and gives them the possibility to send information in the form of a geo-located image and/or text back. Targeted users include professional emergency responders of tGADSC, as well as general users affected by disasters. The App intended to tap the abundant information about disasters available from people who actually experience them. Reports of the iGDACS users are used to improve the overall situational picture.

GEOPICTURES
GEO-PICTURES targets professional solutions for rapid access to full quality visual and sensor information anywhere anytime using satellite communications, navigation and earth observation. The project is led by AnsuR in Norway, with users such as United Nations, EU Civil Protection and the Government of Amazonas.

ACRIMAS
ACRIMAS is a project funded under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), Theme SEC-2010.4.1-1 Aftermath crisis managment Phase I, Grant Agreement No. 261669 with 15 partners from 10 European countries, which shall develop a roadmap for an upcoming Demonstration Project (in Phase II) within Crisis Management (CM). The purpose is to make a small-scale experiment with various elements of a full-scale Demonstration Programme, in line with the iterative ACRIMAS approach of "concept development and experimentation".
The purpose is to show that the methodology developed in Acrimas for evaluating demonstrations, assessing progress, and steering the iterative process of improvement can be realized.