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Visual data intelligence empowers first responders to do better emergency management.
08/02/2018

In 2017, the world, especially North America, witnessed the worst hurricanes—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—and forest fires. However, these disasters also brought forward the use of new technologies—such as drones, satellites, sensors, and social media streaming critical audio, videos, and pictures—helping authorities to take appropriate relief measures.
Now first responders and law enforcement agencies have mountains of data. The data support them in gaining situational awareness, prioritizing areas that need immediate help and designing faster responses.
However, as the data grows, they often struggle to filter, process and visualize massive streami4ng data to make sense in real time.

This data overload results in delayed decisions during a crisis.

Although the agencies are capable of developing frameworks to analyze data, they struggle to consolidate data lying different departmental silos in one centralized repository. They are also computing power to transform data into useful formats to run analytics on them. Newer data requires modifications in existing frameworks (algorithms), agencies grapple to make changes in models swiftly using their traditional analytics and visualization tools. The text- and number-heavy reporting dashboards perplex disaster management professionals further from identifying patterns in a short time.

The first responders need a simple and intuitive decision tool to work with to take timely actions. Data visualization technologies are continuously evolving to overcome the limitations of the previous generation tools. Immersive data visualization (IDV) technology is the new kid on the block that has been developed to help emergency responders to scrutinize crisis data faster and more intuitively along with remote teams.
IDV uses the power of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). VR allows you to immerse yourself in a virtual or digital world, while AR overlays digital images in the physical world. Hybrid reality or MR merges physical and virtual worlds to generate a new visualization where both worlds coexist and interact in real time.
With GPU-based cloud computing platform and machine learning (ML) capabilities, IDV helps visualize multidimensional data dealing with spatial and temporal datasets (e.g., traffic data, water supply, and weather data) on the digital twin of a city landscape. The ML helps visualization models get adapted to newer data to remain contextual. Users interact with data using natural gestures and voice commands. They can see objects in a 360-degree environment and perform advanced filtering and “what-if” analysis tools. These powerful functions make pattern discovery easy and data more comprehensible for busy professionals.
In 2014, mudslides killed 43 people and damaged 49 homes and buildings in Washington. Efforts were made to create a 3D model of the areas, monitor topography, and notify first responders seeing any adverse change in soil quality to avoid such tragedies in the future. To monitor topographical changes, you need visualizations with higher pixel qualities with more intense context. The IDV technology makes such high-resolution and intensity visualizations a reality.

IDV helps management teams and stakeholders simulate such past events using historical data. Users can also create hypothetical situations to understand different outcomes in different cases. This enables them to generate new processes based upon partial attributes of a simulated data model. Using statistical models in IDV, they can predict how crowds will behave during a storm or fire, how a forest fire will expand in an area, or the areas prone to epidemics in a flood-hit town. By using insights from such simulations, first responders can be better prepared in terms logistics, medicines, technology, and communication strategy. The knowledge will not only help to manage real events but also expedite remedial actions during recovery periods.

Crisis mapping

IDV plays a vital role in crisis mapping. With live data feeds from sensors and social media, IDV can visualize a location of crisis precisely on a digital map and provide the best routes to reach the site. That leads to a reduction of the search time and maximization of the on-the-site support time.
AR-powered IDV can enable first responders to dispose of hazardous materials by overlaying relevant information through smart glasses.

Remote experts can also see the entire event and provide step-by-step instructions to professionals disposing of the chemicals.

As per a report by the United Nations, 606,000 people were killed, 4.1 billion were injured or became homeless and ~$2 trillion was lost in weather-related disasters during 1995-2015. Statistics reveal that ~335 weather-related catastrophes occur every year. The proactive preparation through advanced technologies is the only way to save human and economic losses during these times.

As per a report by the United Nations, 606,000 people were killed, 4.1 billion were injured or became homeless and ~$2 trillion was lost in weather-related disasters during 1995-2015. Statistics reveal that ~335 weather-related catastrophes occur every year. The proactive preparation through advanced technologies is the only way to save human and economic losses during these times.

The use of IDV and data analytics in emergency management empowers first responders, and the only limiting factor is, perhaps, our creativity to leverage this tool. So, is your organization ready to use this technology to create a better future for citizens?

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