Designing a decision support system to aid evacuation planning

The horrendous flooding and bushfire events of the last few years have resulted in numerous evacuations, despair, loss of life and risks to first responders in their transition from evacuation to rescue. It is considered that evacuation processes can be improved by integrating other ‘intelligent’ systems and presenting that information in a logical manner.

Australia and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management- Earth, Fire and Rain Conference warmly thanks Dr Haydn Betts, Manager, Water Resources Queensland for presenting this paper at the recent conference held May at Mercure Brisbane.  Dr Betts proposed the need for a systematic approach to evacuation planning that can be assisted by the development of decision support systems that would aid emergency management preparation and community engagement processes.

Dr Haydn Betts
Dr Haydn Betts

The scope was directed to identify early evacuation triggers, shortening the decision making and warning process to extend evacuation time, protection of community infrastructure and the orderly restoration and recovery effort. Decision support systems are needed to integrate data flow and information in an accurate, spatially oriented and timely manner within an emergency management resource structure. Without sound information systems, decision makers may find themselves under increasing pressure and fail to adequately manage an unfolding emergency. They are also useful tools to present information as part of a risk communication program but the needs and requirements are much different to those of emergency managers.

A decision support system is defined as a collection of data, information and processes, which, when combined, amplifies the value of the data and enables rapid judgements. A series of processes are applied to improve and/or transform the data to an information-set in a vertical ladder of technology, improving the value of the data to the end users. To be fully effective they must also integrate with the lateral set of instructions from decision makers to their emergency teams.

You can download podcasts of presentations like Dr Betts from the Australia and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management- Earth, Fire and Rain Conference by clicking here.  Keep an eye on our website for  information about our upcoming 2014 event which will be held 5-7 May QT Surfers Paradise.