Correcting Blindness In the Nerve Center: How To Improve Situational Awareness
Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States
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Even though success or failure depends on it, situational awareness in emergency operations centers is often poorly prioritized. These centers depend on situational awareness to manage information, coordinate resources, and support executive-level decision making. Having limited or poor situational awareness forces emergency responders to act without all the information needed to make good decisions, leading to poor coordination and ineffective response. In order to identify opportunities for improving situational awareness, this thesis used a qualitative case study approach to examine the level of importance situational awareness plays in the emergency operations center during disasters, and to identify both good and poor practices. Examining four case studies through an organizational-change analytic framework revealed that situational awareness is a system of interconnected elements that include task, structure, people, and technology. This thesis concludes that situational awareness in the emergency operations center can be improved by employing an emergency operations center situational awareness organizational model. Investments must be made in improving all elements of the organization. The research determined that the intelligence process is an ideal model for defining how situational awareness can be established, maintained, and shared.