What You See Is What I Need: Mobile Reporting Practices in Emergencies
Decisions of emergency response organisations (police, fire fighters, infrastructure providers, etc.) rely on accurate and timely information. Some necessary information is integrated into control centre’s IT (weather, availability of electricity, gauge information, etc.), but almost every decision needs to be based on very specific information of the current crisis situation. Due to the unpredictable nature of a crisis, gathering this kind of information requires much improvisation and articulation work which we aim to support. We present a study on how different emergency response organisations communicate with teams on-site to generate necessary information for the coordinating instances, and we described, implemented and evaluated an interaction concept as well as a prototype to support this communication by a semi-structured request-and-report system based on Android devices. We learned that (1) the accuracy of request and reports can be improved by using an appropriate metadata structure in addition to creating multimedia-based information content, (2) requirements of trusted and fast information need to be respected in support concepts although they may even be contradictory, and (3) the coordination strategy of the emergency response organisation also shapes the way this interaction needs to be designed.