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Towards an Interoperable Operational Emergency Response System for Large-Scale Situations: POLARISC


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After a lot of recent natural and human-made disasters all over the world, the large-scale emergency response process is becoming very critical and challenging. Lives can be lost and property can be harmed. To respond to these major threats, an effective operational emergency response system needs to address the necessity of data sharing, information exchange and coordination between the different involved Emergency Responders (ERs) including firefighters, police, healthcare services, army, municipality and so on to successfully respond to large- scale disasters. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to introduce POLARISC, an interoperable software solution based on a common modular ontology shared by all the ERs. Its main objective is to solve the problem of heterogeneity of data, to guarantee a common understanding among the various ERs, and to enable interoperability among them in order to coordinate their interventions and to obtain a real-time operational picture of the situation.
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Elmhadhbi et al.
POLARISC: an Interoperable Operational Emergency
Response System
WiPe Paper Universal Design of ICT in Emergency Management
Proceedings of the 15th ISCRAM Conference Rochester, NY, USA May 2018
Kees Boersma and Brian Tomaszewski, eds.
Towards an Interoperable Operational
Emergency Response System for
Large-Scale Situations: POLARISC
Linda Elmhadhbi
University of Toulouse, France
Mohamed Hedi Karray
University of Toulouse, France
Bernard Archimède
University of Toulouse, France
After a lot of recent natural and human-made disasters all over the world, the large-scale emergency response
process is becoming very critical and challenging. Lives can be lost and property can be harmed. To respond to
these major threats, an effective operational emergency response system needs to address the necessity of data
sharing, information exchange and coordination between the different involved Emergency Responders (ERs)
including firefighters, police, healthcare services, army, municipality and so on to successfully respond to large-
scale disasters. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to introduce POLARISC, an interoperable software solution
based on a common modular ontology shared by all the ERs. Its main objective is to solve the problem of
heterogeneity of data, to guarantee a common understanding among the various ERs, and to enable
interoperability among them in order to coordinate their interventions and to obtain a real-time operational
picture of the situation.
Emergency response, Emergency Response System, Semantic interoperability, Ontology.
Today, people are threatened by disaster situations, whether they are natural or human-made, disasters have
been happening all around the world, every day and every single hour. Disasters can be defined as a sudden,
accidental event of great magnitude that may cause deaths, severe injuries and property damage if not handled
properly. For a safer future and to reduce disaster impacts, a large network of heterogeneous services of
Emergency Responders (ERs) from various Emergency Response Organizations (EROs) including firefighters,
police, healthcare services, army, municipality and so on are working hard to manage the large-scale disasters.
The need to face these threats make the emergency response process very critical and challenging. Emergency
response can be divided into three phases: (1) pre-crisis is about prevention and preparation, (2) crisis response
is when management must actually respond to a crisis, and (3) post-crisis phase looks for better ways to prepare
for the next crisis (Coombs, 2007). In this context, we will focus on the crisis response phase. In fact, in crisis
response, ERs necessitate an ample need of timely information sharing and data exchange to obtain a real-time
operational picture of the situation. But, each ERs has deployed its own information system. As a direct result of
this situation, the main ambiguity that shows up is that information is heterogeneous; they are stored in different
data sources, with different semantics and in different formats. Moreover, the major drawback is the deficiency
of interoperability between the different information systems of the ERs. These issues lead to the
misunderstanding and lack of coordination and data sharing among the ERs. Accordingly, almost without
exception, reports and reflections after disasters express concerns over the EROs abilities to collaborate. A
Elmhadhbi et al.
POLARISC: an Interoperable Operational Emergency
Response System
WiPe Paper Universal Design of ICT in Emergency Management
Proceedings of the 15th ISCRAM Conference Rochester, NY, USA May 2018
Kees Boersma and Brian Tomaszewski, eds.
recent example of this can be found in the concluding report on the terror attack in Norway on June 22, 2011,
stating that the various EROs (firefighters, police, healthcare services, etc.) were unable to effectively
communicate and coordinate their effort (Eide et al., 2012). Thus, an effective operational emergency response
system needs to address two key challenges; First, information interoperability is primordial among the different
stakeholders during a crisis. Second, information should be semantically understandable by all the ERs since
each stakeholder requests information in their own vocabulary, data representation and graphical charter
(various color codes, different graphical symbols).
To address these challenges, in this paper, we introduce a novel solution POLARISC Plateforme
OpérationnelLe d’Actualisation du Renseignement Interservices pour la Sécurité Civile»), an ontology-based
operational emergency response system. It is a new French project which started in 2017. It is an interoperable
inter-services software solution for reliable and timely information sharing for the operational management of
large-scale crisis situations. The focus is about offering to all ERs a real-time operation picture of the situation
in order to enable multi-stakeholders and multi-level coordination within the EROs including firefighters,
police, healthcare services, army and other government services. The rest of this paper is organized as follows.
First, we describe the French structure of civil protection and emergency response. Later, a literature review on
recent works and projects on emergency response is presented. Then, section 4 goes into the details of the
proposed solution and the system architecture. At last, the conclusion and the future work are presented.
Each country has its own culture and structure of Emergency Response Organizations in emergency situations.
As regards the French Republic, it is a unitary state that includes four levels as shown in Figure 1. At the
national level, the prime minister of France is responsible for the civil protection in the whole country. He takes
control of the COGIC Centre Opérationnel de Gestion Interministérielle de Crise», inter-ministerial
operational crisis management center). It ensures round-the-clock monitoring of large-scale rescue operations
and coordinates the use of resources in the event of a major incident. Afterward, at the zone level, the zone
prefects are in charge of the COZ («Centre Opérationnel de Zone», Zonal Operations Centre) that ensures the
coordination of the aid and rescue operations. Next, local branches of central ministries are directly controlled
by prefects. Then, at department level, the prefect governs the COD Centre Opérationnel Départemental»,
Departmental Operations Centre), he counts on the PCO Poste de Commandement Opérationnel», Operations
Command Post), which is located in a safe place near the crisis area and in charge of coordinating the various
actors in the field. Finally, at the communal level, each commune has its own mayor, responsible for everyday
public safety and security on the territory of the municipality. In case of disaster, the mayor is the first to step in.
As the “emergency operations director” during crises, he manages resources and coordinates communication
between firefighters’ brigade, police, healthcare services and all actors who may be implicated in a crisis (Coste
et al., 2013).
Figure 1. French Structure of Emergency Response
(Source: Ministry of the Interior, 2009)
Elmhadhbi et al.
POLARISC: an Interoperable Operational Emergency
Response System
WiPe Paper Universal Design of ICT in Emergency Management
Proceedings of the 15th ISCRAM Conference Rochester, NY, USA May 2018
Kees Boersma and Brian Tomaszewski, eds.
The ORSEC («Organisation de la Réponse de SEcurité Civile», Organization of the civil security response) plan
provides the general framework for the civil security response. It is the basis of inter-services operational
management regardless the origin of the major event affecting the population (natural or human-made disasters).
Since 1999, major events have occurred in France, such as the 1999 storm of the century, the 2001
explosion at the AZF factory (Toulouse), the 2003 heat wave and the Xynthia storm (2010), specifically
contributed to raising awareness, highlighting the complexity of the civil security organization (Coste et al.,
2013). The feedback from the Xynthia storm, which caused at least 53 of persons killed and about 1.2 billion
Euros of damage (Le Parisien, 2010), elaborated by the SDIS («Services départementaux d’incendie et de
secours», Departmental fire and emergency services) of “Charente Maritime” highlights that information
remains the essential element in crisis response. It should be treated in terms of content and flow. Indeed, this
feedback brought to light a number of weaknesses that should be improved including:
The necessity of the development of a common semantic terminology between the SDIS and the COD.
The need of a common visualization tool of the tactical situation (SITAC) among COD, SDIS and PCO
to obtain a real-time operational picture of the situation.
A better coordination and cooperation between stakeholders.
An essential improvement in terms of data sharing and information among stakeholders.
To conclude, the French structure of emergency response is characterized by the multiplicity of the involved
actors and their cultures. To deal with this diversity, an efficient coordination is a primordial requirement.
Therefore, the need for an interoperable multi-level and multi-stakeholders’ operational emergency response
system based on a common understanding of the meaning of terminologies for the operational management of
large-scale disasters has been recognized.
For many years, there have been considerable efforts and growing interest to propose improvements in the
emergency response field. Many solutions have been developed trying to solve real issues that cause slower and
inefficient decision making in responding to emergency situations such as semantic heterogeneity of data,
deficiency of interoperability in emergency management systems, misunderstanding and the lack of
coordination and data sharing between all stakeholders.
At a national level, the project POLARIS is an essential component of the rescue operations developed by the
society EXYZT (Σ: the set of, X, Y, Z: spatial landmark (3D), T: temporal dimension) in 2011. More
specifically, it is an operational emergency response system used by the firefighters’ tactical chain of command.
This software allows the SDIS to coordinate all their interventions according to the topology of the field, the
weather, the direction and strength of the wind, the available means, etc. It is built based on the national
graphical charter GOC («Gestion Opérationnelle de Commandement», Operational Management of
Commandment) (Figure 2). It allows each level of the firefighters’ chain of command to have a real-time
operational picture of the situation and also to add new tactical information. It has been able to manage
important intervention such as the European exercise RICHTER-2012.
Figure 2. Example of an intervention managed by POLARIS
Elmhadhbi et al.
POLARISC: an Interoperable Operational Emergency
Response System
WiPe Paper Universal Design of ICT in Emergency Management
Proceedings of the 15th ISCRAM Conference Rochester, NY, USA May 2018
Kees Boersma and Brian Tomaszewski, eds.
This software is used nowadays by the French firefighters. But, its major drawback is the fact of not enabling
communication and information sharing among stakeholders. Disappointingly, operational ERs still
communicate and coordinate through the prefect by means of telephones rather than information systems. If this
kind of operational software, POLARIS, oversteps firefighters to include the different stakeholders, the result
will be so advantageous to the emergency response field.
At the European level, there are a few research projects that have been working on the field of cross-border
collaboration in emergency response such as DISASTER (Data Interoperability Solution At Stakeholders
Emergencies Reaction) (Casado, et al., 2014). It tries to solve linguistic, semantic and cultural difference
between countries by proposing a methodical basis for connecting and translating emergency management
systems. It transforms the needed resources to the appropriate language, vocabularies, formats and protocols. In
the same context, another project named INCA (A Decision Support Framework for Improving Cross-border
Area Resilience to Disasters) focusses on the resilience of medical dependent citizens and the management of
volunteers in a cross-border area (Lotter et al., 2017). They develop a resilience framework that helps decision-
makers before and during cross-border incidents specifically on the French and on the German side. They
propose a set of scenarios and guidelines to figure out the most appropriate measures.
Furthermore, DRIVER (Driving Innovation in Crisis Management for European Resilience) (van der Ven and
Stolk, 2015) proposes a distributed Pan-European test-bed to provide guidelines on how to perform experiments
as well as a framework to evaluate results. It is about three major thematic: First, Civil Society Resilience focus
on citizens and civil society actors that are not professionally trained in crisis management, then, Strengthened
Responders shows the benefits of innovative solutions to professional stakeholders. Finally, Evolved Learning
aims to enhance the capabilities of professionals by performing a series of training modules to all the actors
from first responders to the highest level of decision makers. In fact, the test-bed implies on a portfolio of Crisis
Management tools where researchers, citizens and stakeholders can progress on new solutions. In the same
context, Driver has some related ongoing project such as DARWIN2. It aims to provide emergency responders
guidelines so as to facilitate crisis response. However, in these works, authors don’t propose an end-user
emergency response system.
Another European project named SecInCoRe (Secure Dynamic Cloud for Information, Communication and
Resource Interoperability based on Pan-European Disaster Inventory) (Petersen and Büscher, 2017), looks for
improving interoperability and data sharing among stakeholders by means of the development of a common
information space based on information systems employed in past disaster events by first responders and police
authorities by providing cloud-based semantic services. To do this, authors did a Pan-European inventory of
disasters and their consequences and then elaborated a dynamic cloud-based communication system concept
basing on a formulated knowledge base. In fact, it is a common information space concept documentation rather
than an operational emergency response system.
Indeed, most of the proposed emergency response systems in literature lack a proper support to semantic
interoperability. The interoperability among the various ERs requires a common ontology to overcome semantic
heterogeneity. To do so and to guarantee a consistent shared understanding of the meaning of information, the
use of ontologies is crucial (Antunes et al., 2013). Ontologies are expressed in a logic-based language, so that
accurate, consistent, and meaningful distinctions can be made among the classes, instances, properties,
attributes, and relations to reveal the implicit and hidden knowledge in order to understand the meaning of the
data. Thus, they offer the richest representations of machine-interpretable semantics for systems and databases
(Obrst, 2013). They serve as both knowledge representation and as mediation to enable heterogeneous systems
interoperability (Song et al., 2013).
In (Fan and Zlatanova, 2011), authors looked for solving the problem of spatial data heterogeneity in emergency
situations and their transmission to stakeholders. For this purpose, they proposed an ontology model that focuses
on two types of data static data (topographic data such as TOP10) and dynamic data (data gathered after a
disaster; damaged building, damaged car). Unfortunately, the work proposed is still at a very early stage and no
ontology exist that can be used in emergency response.
In fact, in crisis response, there are two levels of intervention in the conduct of a crisis, namely, the crisis
management level that includes political, strategic and tactical stages and the operational management level. As
regards the French Republic, in case of a large scale situation, the president of the Republic and the prime
minister take charge of political and strategic actions. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for activating, if
required, the inter-ministerial crisis committee (CIC). Then, the CIC is in charge of the transmission of decisions
from the political level to the operational centers respectively within the national firefighters, gendarmerie,
police and civil security services.
To conclude, few systems are presented to enhance the field of large-scale emergency response. These systems
are typically specific to certain aspects of emergency response, but unable to cover all of them. In addition, they
are concerned about crisis management at a higher level (strategic level) but there is no system that focusses on
Elmhadhbi et al.
POLARISC: an Interoperable Operational Emergency
Response System
WiPe Paper Universal Design of ICT in Emergency Management
Proceedings of the 15th ISCRAM Conference Rochester, NY, USA May 2018
Kees Boersma and Brian Tomaszewski, eds.
the inter-services operational level, unlike POLARISC that includes all actors involved in operational
emergency response level (Figure 3) such as healthcare services, firefighters, police department, etc. At last, in
the literature, there is a lack of a common terminology or standard. Therefore, our solution aims to overcome
these limits by proposing an inter-services operational emergency response system for large-scale situations
basing on a common modular ontology that covers all the stakeholders’ knowledge.
Figure 3. POLARISC positioning compared to other systems
Information accessibility and availability is vital during a large-scale emergency response. For this purpose,
POLARISC aims to offer a common operational picture, timely access to the needed information, data sharing
and coordination among stakeholders. Figure 4 illustrates the architecture of POLARISC as a whole system and
also shows the proposed modular ontology for semantic interoperability between stakeholders. POLARISC is
mainly a software solution that plays the role of mediation between ERs that require coordination and
cooperation for large-scale operations. It is composed of three layers; First, the users layer is composed of the
different stakeholders that will use the system (firefighters, police, healthcare services, etc.).
Second, the integrated services layer is about suggesting a set of services designed to support the ERs in
emergency response. Among these services, Evacuation of victims’ service allows finding as quickly as possible
the appropriate health care institutions and reserves it according to the patient state (Mhadhbi et al., 2015).
Messaging service will ensure a semantically adaptive information exchange between the different stakeholders
in order to consolidate information and also to send the appropriate information to the appropriate actor by
taking into account the hierarchical levels of commandment. Geospatial service provides to stakeholders a smart
cartography to have a real time operational picture of what happen on the field and also to add on the map the
different interventions (the involved means, stakeholders, etc.). Operational service is about means management
on the field. The tactical service proposes a decision support tool for prevision and simulation of emergency
response. Then, mediators layer is responsible of transforming the data according to the appropriate vocabulary
and graphical charter (color codes and graphical symbols) of the stakeholder. It is a gateway between end-user
systems, the services layer and the data layer. As a result, each stakeholder receives information and uses the
proposed services in accordance with his vocabulary and checks the operational picture of what is happening
exactly in the field according to his graphical charter.
At last, the data layer is the core of the proposed system. To overcome semantic heterogeneity among
stakeholders, the definition of a common terminology is essential. Thus, we resort to ontology to reveal the ERs’
complex knowledge in order to understand the meaning of the data and transmit it to the correct ERs. The
ontology encompasses ERs vocabulary to contain also the different process, workflows and rules.
Elmhadhbi et al.
POLARISC: an Interoperable Operational Emergency
Response System
WiPe Paper Universal Design of ICT in Emergency Management
Proceedings of the 15th ISCRAM Conference Rochester, NY, USA May 2018
Kees Boersma and Brian Tomaszewski, eds.
Figure 4. POLARISC architecture
To develop our proposed modular ontology (a module for each stakeholder), first, we reused an upper-level
ontology. Indeed, the use of upper-level ontologies facilitates the alignment between several domain ontologies
and enable interoperability between them. In other words, if the ontologies to be mapped are driven from a
stander upper-level ontology, this will make the mapping task very easy. In addition, upper-level ontologies play
the same role as libraries in software programming tasks. Once they are used, one could reuse the defined
concepts and relationships and so as to inherit the inferencing capabilities furnished by them. In this way,
developing a domain ontology is an easier task that requires less time than usual. Moreover, the aim is to avoid
having several incompatible domain ontologies. The usage of upper-level ontologies for integrating information
and sharing knowledge among heterogeneous sources has been motivated in various related works
(Baumgartner and Retschitzegger, 2006).
To select the appropriate upper-level ontology, we first looked for a realist upper ontology that represents the
world as is and not underlying natural language and human common-sense. Then, to ensure that the upper-level
ontology can be extended to an emergency management ontology, it should be universal. Universal classes are
often characterized as natural classes that abstract or generalize over similar particular things. Person, Location,
Process, etc., are examples of universals (Semy etal., 2004). Accordingly, in this work, we employed Basic
Formal Ontology (BFO) as an upper-level ontology (Smith and Ceusters, 2010) (Seppälä etl., 2014). We
might say that the ontology encapsulates the knowledge of the world that is associated with the general terms
used by scientists in the corresponding domain (Arp et al., 2015). As a starting point, BFO uses the term
«entity» as a common representation of anything that exists in the world from the point of view whether of
philosophers or scientific researchers. Then, it incorporates two categories of entity «Continuants» and
«Occurrents» in a single framework as a top-level distinction between entities. Continuants are entities that
persist through time including three axes; objects (Material entity) or and spatial regions (Immaterial entities) as
Independent continuant, functions and qualities as Specifically independent continuant and finally, Generically
dependent continuant. Occurrents are entities that happen or develop over time such as process.
As a mid-level ontology, we decide that Common Core Ontology (CCO) meets most our requirements since it
inherits from BFO as an upper-level ontology and defines a modular set of extensible classes and relations that
can be connected to our domain ontology. The ten mid-level ontologies that compose the common core ontology
are: The Information Entity Ontology, the Agent Ontology, the Quality Ontology, the Event Ontology, the
Artifact Ontology, the Time Ontology, the Geospatial Ontology, the Units of Measure Ontology, the Currency
Elmhadhbi et al.
POLARISC: an Interoperable Operational Emergency
Response System
WiPe Paper Universal Design of ICT in Emergency Management
Proceedings of the 15th ISCRAM Conference Rochester, NY, USA May 2018
Kees Boersma and Brian Tomaszewski, eds.
Unit Ontology, and the Extended Relation Ontology (Ron, 2016). In our work, we reused only three modules
that will be extended according to the domain level needs which are Agent Ontology, Time Ontology and
Geospatial Ontology.
Concerning the domain ontologies and to develop the different modules, interviews were conducted with
stakeholders so as to capture their needs and to identify their technical vocabulary (Commandment hierarchy,
means, types of intervention, roles, etc.).
We started first by firefighters’ module. At the end of this stage, the firefighters’ ontology had around 429
classes and 246 relations. The classes are labeled in English and in French. The final step consists on the
evaluation of the proposed ontology by domain experts in term of inconsistency, incompleteness and
redundancy. To summarize, the ontology we created, once it is complete and all the emergency management
actors’ modules are integrated, it will be instantiated to test it by means of a concrete use case and it will be used
in an Emergency Management System as a common shared vocabulary. Domain expert and users should then
evaluate and validate the obtained results.
In large-scale disasters, coordination of emergency responders is challenging due to the heterogeneity of
systems in use. In this paper, we have introduced POLARISC, an inter-services operational emergency response
system for data sharing among heterogeneous ERO in large-scale situations. It offers a real-time operation
picture of the situation. In addition, we have highlighted the use of POLARISC Ontology, a common modular
ontology, that ensures semantic interoperability in emergency response and guarantees a common understanding
between stakeholders. For all we know, the modular ontology proposed in this paper is the first ontology based
on BFO and CCO that aims to define the emergency responders’ knowledge. As a future work, we will develop
the rest of the stakeholders’ modules and then integrate them in a global ontology that will be validated by
domain experts. As future directions, the project can be extended to take into account more actors such as
volunteers and people with disabilities or limited language skills.
This research was conducted as part of the POLARISC (Plateforme OpérationnelLe d’Actualisation du
Renseignement Interservices pour la Sécurité Civile) project. It was funded by the regional operational program
FEDER/FSE « Midi-Pyrénées et Garonne 2014-2020 » as part of the call for projects “Easynov2016”.
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POLARISC: an Interoperable Operational Emergency
Response System
WiPe Paper Universal Design of ICT in Emergency Management
Proceedings of the 15th ISCRAM Conference Rochester, NY, USA May 2018
Kees Boersma and Brian Tomaszewski, eds.
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... Indeed, most of the existing systems are not fully accepted by actors since they are limited to some functionalities or are developed without examining the real needs of actors. In addition, a lack of interoperability between the different existing systems is underlined, which makes the use of these systems more complicated (Elmhadhbi, Karray, & Archimède, 2018). Moreover, none of these systems meets all the identified requirements for effective communication. ...
... forbidden access. (Elmhadhbi et al., 2018). Therefore, it is almost impossible to combine the existing systems into one interoperable system that responds to all of the identified requirements. ...
Full-text available
Efficient rescue operations require a high level of situation awareness amongst decision-makers and first responders for the purpose of achieving operations successfully and reducing losses. Moreover, a common operational picture between involved actors is required in order to support decision-making. Therefore, different organisations and agencies have to collaborate, cooperate, and coordinate their actions with each other. Hence, effective interactions and communications between participants are vital to fulfil these essential needs. However, emergency actors still lack backing to exchange information effectively and ensure a common operational picture in order to reach shared situational awareness. For this reason, we aim to develop and implement Rescue MODES, a communication system oriented to support situation awareness amongst French emergency actors in rescue operations. In this paper, we examine and analyse actors’ activities and interactions, so that the system will be based on the real needs of actors. We start by studying and modelling the communications, interactions, and information flow. This modelling is based on an application ontology. Then, we define requirements for good communication in these operations and present some existing systems in France and how each system responds to these requirements.
... POLARISCO is proposed in the context of the project POLARISC (Plateforme Opérationnelle d'Actualisation du Renseignement Interservices pour la Sécurité Civile) [3,4]. POLARISC is a French national project initiated in 2017. ...
Full-text available
Managing complex disaster situations is a challenging task because of the large number of actors involved and the critical nature of the events themselves. In particular, the different terminologies and technical vocabularies that are being exchanged among Emergency Responders (ERs) may lead to misunderstandings. Maintaining a shared semantics for exchanged data is a major challenge. To help to overcome these issues, we elaborate a modular suite of ontologies called POLARISCO that formalizes the complex knowledge of the ERs. Such a shared vocabulary resolves inconsistent terminologies and promotes semantic interoperability among ERs. In this work, we discuss developing POLARISCO as an extension of Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) and the Common Core Ontologies (CCO). We conclude by presenting a real use-case to check the efficiency and applicability of the proposed ontology.
... PROOVES has been developed within the scope of the existing POLARISC project (for: Plateforme OpérationnelLe d'Actualisation du Renseignement Interservices pour la Sécurité Civile) (Elmhadhbi et al., 2018). As shown in Figure 1, the POLARISC platform is composed of three layers (Elmhadhbi et al., 2020): a user interface layer that offers a real-time operational picture by respecting the graphical charter and color code of each stakeholder, POLARISC mediator that plays the role of gateway between end-user and the core system to provide a suitable representation of the requested information according to ERs' specificities, and the core system that is composed of a knowledge base based on a suite of ontologies elaborated by referring to domain experts and a set of integrated services (PROOVES, etc.) and geospatial resources bases. ...
In light of the complexity of unfolding disasters, the diversity of rapidly evolving events, the enormous amount of generated information, and the huge pool of casualties, emergency responders (ERs) may be overwhelmed and in consequence poor decisions may be made. In fact, the possibility of transporting the wounded victims to one of several hospitals and the dynamic changes in healthcare resource availability make the decision process more complex. To tackle this problem, we propose a multicriteria decision support service, based on the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method, that aims to avoid overcrowding and outpacing the capacity of a hospital to effectively provide the best care to victims by finding out the most appropriate hospital that meets the victims’ needs. The proposed approach searches for the most appropriate healthcare institution that can effectively deal with the victims’ needs by considering the availability of the needed resources in the hospital, the victim’s wait time to receive the healthcare, and the transfer time that represents the hospital proximity to the disaster site. The evaluation and validation results showed that the assignment of hospitals was done successfully considering the needs of each victim and without overwhelming any single hospital.
... However, these chains of command are neglected by existing CIMSs, and the latter therefore do not address the major operational challenges posed by disasters, which call for effective command response. This shortfall has motivated us to create the POLARISC system [7], which is a semantically driven operational command system based on the French emergency response doctrine that is designed to ensure an effective flow of information among ERs. POLARISC is designed around certain features of the emergency response in France, but we believe that it is readily generalizable in such a way that it can be applied also in other jurisdictions. ...
Disaster response is a highly collaborative and critical process that requires the involvement of multiple emergency responders (ERs), ideally working together under a unified command, to enable a rapid and effective operational response. Following the 9/11 and 11/13 terrorist attacks and the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it is apparent that inadequate communication and a lack of interoperability among the ERs engaged on-site can adversely affect disaster response efforts. Within this context, we present a scenario-based terrorism case study to highlight the challenges of operational disaster command and response. In this article, which is based on the French emergency response doctrine, we outline a semantics-based common operational command system that is designed to guarantee an efficient information flow among ERs. Our focus is on offering to all ERs, a real-time operational picture of the situation in order to enable multilevel coordination among firefighters, police, healthcare units, public authorities, and other stakeholders. Our approach consolidates information to promote timely sharing of data among ERs. The proposed system is based on an ontology that has been developed to represent the different types of knowledge on the part of ERs, providing a shared vocabulary that covers a variety of interoperability concerns.
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Disaster response requires the cooperation of multiple emergency responder organizations (EROs). However, after-action reports relating to large-scale disasters identity communication difficulties among EROs as a major hindrance to collaboration. On the one hand, the use of two-radio communication, based on multiple orthogonal frequencies and uneven coverage, has been shown to degrade inter-organization communication. On the other hand, because they reflect different areas of expertise, EROs use differing terminologies, which are difficult to reconcile. These issues lead to ambiguities, misunderstandings, and inefficient exchange of data and information among those involved, which can impede the response process and slow decision making. We, therefore, hypothesize that promoting semantic interoperability across ERO information systems might improve information exchange among stakeholders and thereby allow a more coherent response to the disaster. We propose an ontology-based messaging service on the basis of the Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) standards. The parties involved will continue to use the terminologies to which they are accustomed, but the system will resolve inconsistencies and thereby enhance mutual understanding among EROs by ensuring semantic translation of the exchanged information. The evaluation of the semantic translation demonstrated the effectiveness and accuracy of the proposed service.
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A goal of enterprise architecture is to align the business with the underlying support systems. An enterprise architecture description encompasses an heterogeneous spectrum of domains, such as business processes, application components, metrics, people and technological infrastructure. Architectural views express the domain elements and their relationships from the perspective of the system stakeholders. As a result, a view needs to be expressed using a domain language that addresses the specific concerns of its stakeholders. However, enterprise architecture description languages are often based on generic or broad meta-models that cross-cut distinct architectural domains. But describing each domain through a specialized language and then integrating it with the other domains raises challenges at the level of traceability and consistency. This paper proposes using ontologies to specify different enterprise architecture domains and to integrate and analyse these models. This goal is realized through a domain-independent language that is extended by domain-specific languages, each focussing on a set of specific domain concerns. The approach contributes to the alignment of the different domains while ensuring traceability between then concepts. The proposal is demonstrated through an evaluation scenario that uses ArchiMate as the domain-independent language extended with a set of domain-specific languages. The demonstration shows that the architecture domains can be integrated and analysed through the use of ontologies.
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Recently, we are witnessing the progressive increase in the occurrence of large-scale disasters, characterized by an overwhelming scale and number of causalities. After 72 hours from the disaster occurrence, the damaged area is interested by assessment, reconstruction and recovery actions from several heterogeneous organizations, which need to collaborate and being orchestrated by a centralized authority. This situation requires an effective data sharing by means of a proper middleware platform able to let such organizations to interoperate despite of their differences. Although international organizations have defined collaboration frameworks at the higher level, there is no ICT supporting platform at operational level able to realize the data sharing demanded by such collaborative frameworks. This work proposes a layered architecture and a preliminary implementation of such a middleware for messaging, data and knowledge management. We also illustrate a demonstration of the usability of such an implementation, so as to show the achievable interoperability.
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