Sunday, March 28, 2010

Future of Crisis Management

At the CMU-hosted Silicon Valley Crisis Camp, March 26-28, 2010, there was a lively brainstorming session about the longer-term future of disaster management. In the much farther future, crisis response could disappear since disasters might be prevented through weather management, sensor-equipped smartbuildings, and floating movable cities. When disasters do occur, they could be regarded as an annoyance rather than a catastrophic loss of human lives and property through the 3-D printing of physical bodies imprinted with recent mindfile backups, and robot-aided damage clearing and structure rebuilding.

In the medium term, advanced technology could transform crisis response in several ways:

  • Robotic first responders: Autonomous or remote-piloted robots could be used as a substitute to humans for assessing damage, scouting terrain, finding victims, and providing aid.
  • Super-smartphone: Super-smartphones could be messaged or would automatically sense disaster occurrence and switch into crisis mode, making disaster applications easily accessible, for example mapping software layers indicating relief shelters, and automatic status updates from personal social networks. Smartphones could track health status, vital signs, psychological state, and be used for telediagnosis and even possibly DIY surgery or other medical treatment. The user could run a virtual world app on the smartphone integrated with augmented reality to send their avatar out to inspect the local environment for self-rescue and peer-rescue.
  • Building codes 3.0: smart sensors could capture a variety of data about a building’s status and its occupants, for example knowing who or at least how many people are inside a building at any time (with regular data purges to protect privacy).
  • Gaming: An augmented reality (AR) game immediately begins when a crisis occurs. Participants earn points for crowdsourcing/reporting information, uploading video footage documenting damage, and accepting challenges (disaster management-related tasks). There could be many layers to the AR interface, heatmaps showing the injured and dead, building damage, resource availability, shelters and health clinic locations. Gaming could be used to pass time, distract, improve psychological state, and connect those in physical proximity.
  • Market principals: Technology tools could be used to create markets, to facilitate the discovery and exchange of different types of supply and demand: information, labor, time, relief resource availability, and distribution.
  • 3-D printing of relief materials: blankets, food, shelter, medical supplies, and clinics could be printed with 3-D printers and online sharable CAD designs in urgent disaster response. Over time, smart infrastructure printing could be used to reconstruct buildings. Rubble could be recycled into building materials.
  • RFID-tagged resources: all aid resources and donations could be RFID-tagged for inventory management and delivery, including real-time updates of what is still available and functional from local stores; markets could develop to allocate resources.
  • Personal biosensors and bioactuators: personal biosensors are seamlessly incorporated into clothing to provide a personal data climate including both biophysical and environmental data. Biosensors can identify an approaching bioplague, download antibody plans from the internet, manufacture, and administer them. Similarly, radiation-resistant genes found in extremophiles could be downloaded and applied in the case of nuclear incidents.
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