Designing an Interactive, Intelligent, Spatial Information System for International Disaster Assistance

November 1991 (VOL. 9, NO. 3)

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The complexity of disaster environments poses an extraordinary burden on human decision makers to take timely, appropriate action in uncertain conditions. The information load escalates beyond our limited cognitive capacity for processing information, yet timely action is critical when lives are at risk. The information burden increases with scope and complexity in disaster environments, impeding action despite available resources and committed personnel. The author argues that if individual and organizational learning processes can be increased in complex disaster environments, this knowledge may be shared with the wider international community to generate a stronger capacity to reduce the risk of, and losses from, disaster; and offers a design for an interactive, intelligent spatial information system which can provide decision-makers with flexible capacity to obtain an overview of the entire set of disaster response operations, while retaining the capacity for detailed examination of specific problems at any given time.