Keywords: emergency response, operational risk management, improvisation, blackboard-based decision support
Decision support for improvisation during emergency response operations
Emergency response organisations are faced with complex, unpredictable events with the risk of catastrophic losses. To assist emergency response organisations in responding to these events, new models must be developed and the traditional command and control structure of decision-making must be revised to accommodate greater flexibility and creativity by teams. In this paper, we propose the concept of decision support for improvisation in emergency management. The concept is based on the paradigm of operational risk management and is motivated by the observation that emergency response organisations must be prepared to improvise during response activities. The process of emergency response in light of this new concept is first discussed and opportunities for supporting the process identified. We conclude with a review of a project at the Port of Rotterdam, where we are currently assessing this new decision making approach for emergency management.