Supporting disaster response and recovery through improved situation awareness

Jeongwook Son, Zeeshan Aziz, Feniosky Peña-Mora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose - This paper aims to discuss how a high level of situation awareness (SA) has the potential to enhance first responders' performance and manage work demand resulting from distributed, dynamic, and chaotic situations resulting from a disaster in modern urban environments. It also aims to present a theoretical framework to address needs of an effective disaster response, enhanced collaboration and improved SA. The purpose of this is to help better understand current disaster response schemes in terms of SA, based on the understanding, find a way to improve the disaster response effectiveness, and quantitatively evaluate existing and future disaster response processes. The paper seeks to characterize current disaster response operations by various shortcomings, including inability to access information, lack of coordination, and poor communications. All this makes it difficult to deal with dynamic work demand resulting from disasters. Design/methodology/approach - A response framework, integrating IT and Civil Engineering components is presented highlighting the relationship between situation awareness, collaboration and performance. Also, the implementation approach is discussed. Findings - The paper finds that SA is very relevant to ensuring how much a current disaster response system is effective cognitively and physically, and in understanding how well disaster response systems support the responders at both strategic and operational levels. Practical implications - Support of Civil Engineers and IT components can increase the response performance by facilitating collaboration through improved SA. Originality/value - The paper presents a comprehensive framework and implementation approach to ensure effectiveness of disaster response operations. The framework ensures high situation awareness while supporting collaboration among first responders, including improved civil engineers' roles and exploiting IT components to collect, analyze, and share information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-425
Number of pages15
JournalStructural Survey
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008


  • Communications
  • Disasters
  • Response time


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