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  • Writer's pictureBent Ear Solutions

Situational Awareness - What’s Missing?

With vast amounts of data available that can be automated and integrated into a situational awareness system (geographic data layers, video, sensor data, GPS tracking, social media, etc.), it is easy to assume your situational awareness capability is complete. In fact, some of the most important data is missing from your system as most organizations still rely heavily on stove piped communications channels to pass critical information - particularly during emergencies. These include but are not limited to:

  • Email

  • Text messaging

  • PDF documents

  • Voice/Radio/phone

  • Text based notifications

  • Posts on web sites

  • Collaboration systems (MS Teams, Slack, etc.)

These messages often contain official, essential, and time-sensitive information that is rarely integrated into GIS based situational awareness systems used to support critical decision making. Important actions such as declarations of emergency, waivers, restrictions, evacuation orders, shelter orders, facility status, and more are communicated in ways that make them difficult to use in digital decision support tools.

Additionally, documents, texts, situation reports (SitReps), and PDFs often do not include accurate location information and are extremely variable in how they are structured. This makes it difficult and costly to use machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools to automate the extraction of relevant data to integrate into situational awareness systems.

The most practical and effective way to overcome these obstacles and enable the use of this important information is by deploying a data analyst or outsourcing for this service as a part of your situational awareness program. This provides a “human in the loop” to monitor various (often official) communications channels and convert relevant information into structured data for integration into the situational awareness system. The analyst reviews unstructured data to determine relevancy, accuracy, location, and uploads where it can be viewed in the situational awareness system. Applications that enable analysts to execute these functions are easy to build and operate, providing decision makers with all relevant data to support critical decisions.

Organizations often resist change. Adding a new process to leverage unstructured data within an organization’s situational awareness system requires leadership to “champion” and manage these new processes if they are to be successful. Some of the actions that must be managed include:

  • Staffing changes/reassignments or outsourcing for services.

  • Reviewing and adjusting workflows and standard operating procedures.

  • Development of data sharing agreements with other departments, other organizations or private sector partners.

  • Training and exercises which test new processes, increase proficiency/readiness, and the implementation adjustments as necessary.

How do you tackle the unstructured dilemma today? Bent Ear Solutions has extensive experience in leveraging unstructured data and providing more complete and comprehensive situational awareness. If interested, contact us

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