Plenary Speaker

Software for Emergency Response
Prof. William M. Tepfenhart
Monmouth University

Probably no application domain is more appropriate for discussion at a conference on service operations, logistics, and informatics than emergency response. Doing the right thing at the right time is critical in preventing an emergency situation from escalating into a catastrophe. Of course, this requires having the necessary resources at the proper place when they are needed. By their very nature emergencies are confusing events and it is necessary to cut through the noise to get at the facts of who, what, where, when, how, and why. Emergency response organizations respond to a vast variety of emergencies that differ in terms of frequency, extent, type, and impact. A massive earthquake is rare compared to the common traffic accident. A flood along the Mississippi River is a very different kind of event compared to a volcanic eruption in the Pacific Northwest. An airplane crash can occur anywhere, not just at a local airport. A blizzard is a concern in Kansas, but responders there will never have to worry about a tsunami. A pandemic can have deadly consequence and extend beyond national boundaries. An emergency response organization has to respond to common events while remaining prepared to respond to the improbable. Given the life and death consequences associated with emergency situations, a good question to ask is 'What role can software play in emergency response?' It might seem obvious that software can play a major role in mounting effective responses to emergency situations. Software can help coordinate service operations being provided by multiple responder organizations. Software can serve as an effective tool in logistics. Software can process reams of data to extract situation awareness information. This talk presents a summary view of the current state of software in the emergency response domain. What are the problems? What are the solutions? What software solutions exist? How widely accepted is software? What are the gaps? The answers might be very surprising to most and worrisome to all.