Numerous examples exist of the benefits of the timely access to information in emergencies and disasters. Information technology (IT) is playing an increasingly important role in information-sharing during emergencies and disasters.
The effective use of IT in out-of-hospital (OOH) disaster response is accompanied by numerous challenges at the human, applications, communication, and security levels.Most reports of IT applications to emergencies or disasters to date, concern applications that are hospital-based or occur during non-response phases of events (i.e., mitigation, planning and preparedness, or recovery phases). Few reports address the application of IT to OOH disaster response.
Wireless peer networks that involve ad hoc wireless routing networks and peer-to-peer application architectures offer a promising solution to the many challenges of information-sharing in OOH disaster response. These networks offer several services that are likely to improve information-sharing in OOH emergency response, including needs and capacity assessment databases, victim tracking, event logging, information retrieval, and overall incident management system support.