Loughborough University
Thesis-2010-RahubaddeKankanamge.pdf (47.72 MB)

Information Systems for Supporting Fire Emergency Response

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posted on 2010-12-21, 09:23 authored by Raj Prasanna Rahubadde Kankanamge
Despite recent work on information systems, many first responders in emergency situations are unable to develop sufficient understanding of the situation to enable them to make good decisions. The record of the UK Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) has been particularly poor in terms of providing the information systems support to the fire fighters decision-making during their work. There is very little work on identifying the specific information needs of different types of fire fighters. Consequently, this study has two main aims. The first is to identify the information requirements of several specific members of the FRS hierarchy that lead to better Situation Awareness. The second is to identify how such information should be presented. This study was based on extensive data collected in the FRS brigades of three counties and focused on large buildings having a high-risk of fire and four key fire fighter job roles: Incident Commander, Sector Commander, Breathing Apparatus Entry Control Officer and Breathing Apparatus Wearers. The requirements elicitation process was guided by a Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) tool: Goal Directed Information Analysis (GDIA), which was developed specifically for this study. Initially appropriate scenarios were developed. Based on the scenarios, 44 semi-structured interviews were carried out in three different elicitation phases with both novice and experienced fire fighters. Together with field observations of fire simulation and training exercises, fire and rescue related documentation; a comprehensive set of information needs of fire fighters was identified. These were validated through two different stages via 34 brainstorming sessions with the participation of a number of subject-matter experts. To explore appropriate presentation methods of information, software mock-up was developed. This mock-up is made up of several human computer interfaces, which were evaluated via 19 walkthrough and workshop sessions, involving 22 potential end-users and 14 other related experts. As a result, many of the methods used in the mock-up were confirmed as useful and appropriate and several refinements proposed. The outcomes of this study include: 1) A set of GDI Diagrams showing goal related information needs for each of the job roles with the link to their decision-making needs, 2) A series of practical recommendations suitable for designing of human computer interfaces of fire emergency response information system, 3) Human computer interface mock-ups for an information system to enhance Situation Awareness of fire fighters and 4) A conceptual architecture for the underlying information system. In addition, this study also developed an enhanced cognitive task analysis tool capable of exploring the needs of emergency first responders. This thesis contributes to our understanding of how information systems could be designed to enhance the Situation Awareness of first responders in a fire emergency. These results will be of particular interest to practicing information systems designers and developers in the FRS in the UK and to the wider academic community.



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© Rahubadde Kankanamge, Raj Prasanna

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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