Complexity, structured chaos and the importance of Information Management for Mobile Computing in the UK floods of 2007

Johnson, C.W. (2009) Complexity, structured chaos and the importance of Information Management for Mobile Computing in the UK floods of 2007. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5424, pp. 1-11. (doi:10.1007/978-3-642-00440-7_1)

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Many research teams have developed mobile computing architectures to support the emergency and rescue services in a range of civil contingencies. These proposals are based on innovative technologies and show considerable creativity in the design of their user interfaces. In contrast, this paper presents lessons learned from the 2007 UK floods. Mobile telecommunications failed in many different ways and from many different causes, including physical damage to handsets, as well as the loss of base stations and UPSs. The insights gained from the floods are being used to inform the design of next generation mobile digital communications systems for UK responders. However, the technical problems are arguably less important than the insights that were obtained about ‘systemic’ failures in the interfaces between local government, emergency services and the variety of agencies that must cooperate in major civil contingencies. Problems in information management led to inconsistencies and incompatibilities. In consequence, the output from one application could not easily be used as input to systems operated by other agencies. These issues must be addressed before we are overwhelmed by the increased bandwidth afforded by new mobile devices and novel sensing technologies. It is concluded that unless we understand the chaos, complexity and the contextual issues that characterise previous emergency situations then there is little prospect that we will be able to design effective mobile technologies for future incidents.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Johnson, Professor Chris
Authors: Johnson, C.W.
Subjects:Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Journal Name:Lecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Online):1611-3349
Published Online:01 January 2009

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