Keywords: operating picture, situational awareness, emergency management, collaboration, complex disasters, disaster management, grounded theory, crisis events, decision making, sense making
From common operating picture to situational awareness
The purpose of this study is to investigate what influences the formation of a common operating picture and situational awareness during collaborative efforts to deal with complex disasters. Particular focus is given to the relationship between the operating picture and situational awareness. The study was conducted using qualitative interviews and a grounded theory approach, and is based on interview data from three crisis events. The results show that the operating picture is influenced by information coming together from different sources and forming a snapshot of the event, a portrait which changes and is updated over time, while organisational belonging, role and occupationally specific knowledge provide a framework for and influence situational awareness. The results also show that the operating picture forms the basis for an occupationally specific and role–based situational awareness and its subsequent decision–making. Further studies on the relation between common operating picture, sense making and situational awareness are discussed.