Monday, June 9, 2008

Common Operating Picture (COP) and Maine Disasters

The recent flooding in northern Maine provided emergency disaster planners and managers the opportunity to share information with our neighbor from the north (Canada) in order to mitigate the flooding disaster. It would seem that both Canada and the state of Maine put into action satellite and airborne assets to monitor the flooding situation. However, it appears that it was not coordinated as well as it could have been. Read "Missing: A COP at the border", Portland Press Herald, June 9, 2008. Emergency management officials and others such as the military use the COP to help keep everyone informed about an emerging situation. The military will use the COP to track a battle with icons representing unit locations or events on a computer generated map projected on computer screens or onto a large wall. The computer applications used by the military to track the battlefield include ADOCS, C2PC, and others. Civilian agencies usually will use a Geographic Information System (GIS) based computer application. Usually the COP is integrated with other computer technology-based systems such as email, image, video, and chat system (think NetMeeting, InfoWorkSpace, mIRC, etc). This allows everyone to see the same chat log and map view in many different locations and from many different organizations in real time. Once info is posted into the chat and COP everyone everywhere is instantly updated with info, maps, pictures, and video. In the disaster relief world the same technology is available. However, as in Katrina, it is not always as effective as it could be. I know of one state emergency management organization (not Maine that I know of) that has integrated GoogleEarth into their situational awareness procedures; however, the state's National Guard is not authorized to view GoogleEarth on their computers. Go figure. It would appear that Maine probably has a little bit more coordination to do in this regard. Click here to read more on emergency management and emergency management in Maine. Microsoft has a webpage describing some of their products and how they can be integrated into emergency management "COP" solutions.

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