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On improving communication in emergency response at network and organizational levels


The scale and frequency of large-scale disasters and the wide range of severities and the myriad ways a nation has been affected by, reveals the importance of a reliable communication system in emergency response scenarios. Communication may fail for a broken network component, infrastructure failure, or unreachability. A variety of communication technologies have been deployed at crisis sites but the problems of interoperability, unreachability, unclear communication plan and resource allocation still exist. Communication in emergency response applications has unique demands for the minimum or no a priori knowledge, unpredictability, and short or no advance warning. Through participation in several real-life scenario exercises, analysis of network data, examination of after-incident reports, and interviews with first responders, this dissertation investigates the complex communication problem at both network and organizational levels. This dissertation argues that just the deployment of a robust and reliable communication infrastructure does not solve communication problem in emergency response without investigating and improving communication protocols at organizational level. This work justifies that the communication problem strongly correlates with the dynamics of communication protocols at organizational level among first responders in addition to a good choice of communication technology. This effort presents event- driven models based on real-life scenarios to examine structural and behavioral properties of communication protocols at organizational level and to develop supervisory control solutions to assist decision makers with information exchange. This study illuminates the ways in which a supervisor can improve performance by reducing complexity of event-driven models and predicting deadlock in advance. This work incorporates communication technology and organizational communication protocols into traditional stereotypes of communication perspective

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