March 2002 (VOL. 20, NO. 1)

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Emergency planning and management profoundly depend on computer aided decision support tools which gather and analyze data on damage assessment, meteorology, demography, geography, etc., and provide decision support for prevention/mitigation, response, and recovery. Various technologies are amalgamated to provide useful functions to aid this decision-making process. Complexities arise when attempting to link two streams of technology to achieve a realistic, usable tool that emergency planners can rely on. This discussion aims to identify and analyze the challenging issues faced in using two technologies, simulation modeling and Geographical Information Systems, to design decision support tools for the evacuation planning process. The issues investigated arise from experiences in designing the prototype decision support system CEMPS. The discussion primarily focuses on issues related to behavioral and decision-making processes of the various players in evacuation system, logistics, generating realistic scenarios for testing out contingency plans, the validation of such decision support tools, and the future trends in technology and the emergency planning and management processes.