Risk Assessment & Spatial Decision Support

GISystems have, since their initial development, been used to support information integration, situation assessment/awareness and decision-making for applications in planning, environmental management, military deployment, emergency management and response, and related domains in which geospatial information is critical. In spite of this long history, GISystems specifically and geographic information technologies generally are underutilized for situation assessment and decision-support, largely because the varied technologies required are not easily integrated, they do not support integration of disparate datasets, and the resulting systems are hard to use. Several converging factors suggest that the role of geographic information technology in strategic assessment, risk management and decision-support is poised to increase substantially:

  • dramatic increases in availability of base data and real-time collection of data about changing conditions from remotely sensed platforms, sensor networks and advanced field data capture systems
  • substantial improvements in environmental, urban, and related modeling
  • cheaper technology & high-speed networking
  • demand for strategic assessment and crisis management technologies

Several fundamental research challenges must be addressed to realize this potential. These include information technology challenges related to integrating data from diverse sources and merging GISystems, visual analytics, geosemantics, information retrieval, decision support, modeling, and related technologies. They also include challenges related to making technologies easier to use. Current technologies are sometimes not employed due to the steep learning curve required and when used are often abandoned in time-critical situations (in favor of less functional, but easy to use non-computational methods). GeoVISTA Center research addresses these challenges through integrated activities in analytical methods, geosemantics, geocollaboration, and human factors.