Standardizing disaster models to help first responders
Computer modeling and simulation programs that depict predisaster site conditions, changes due to sudden life-threatening events and consequences of emergency responses can be powerful tools for preparing for and coping with everything from terrorist attacks to hurricanes. Yet the multitude of programs, incompatibility of systems as well as technical jargon in the programs themselves hinder widespread acceptance of the potentially life-saving technology. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working to make such modeling and simulation programs readily accessible to emergency response decision-makers.
NIST is identifying the needs of emergency personnel and surveying the available modeling and simulation tools. It also proposes simplifying language in emergency response software to enable emergency personnel, at every level, to use the tools. In addition, NIST advocates industry-government efforts to develop interoperability standards for all modeling, simulation and visualization tools. Finally, NIST supports creation of an electronic “Emergency Response Framework” for such standardized programs. The framework would present state, local and national level decision-makers with a comprehensive menu of easily accessible modeling and simulation programs for understanding the extent of various threats, for training on mitigating damage to life and property and for coordinating emergency responses to actual events. NIST is currently working with other government researchers, industry software experts and emergency response leaders on a roadmap and development plan for the framework.
For background information, see Modeling and Simulation for Emergency Response: Workshop Report, Standards and Tools, a NIST report, published this month, of a 2003 workshop at NIST. The report is available at www.nist.gov/simresponse.
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