Emergency Communications via Handheld Devices




Ngo, Paul Phat

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Ensuring effective communications during emergencies is an important issue for any functional government. One way to address this issue is to ensure the availability of the emergency responders capable of making the appropriate decisions and taking timely actions with sufficient resources. Many XML-based languages such as the Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) and associated Common Alert Protocol (CAP) have been designed to provide a basis for such communications. To ensure that messages are delivered in a timely manner, I propose some role- and task-based ontological enhancements for these languages. I address this availability problem further by proposing a Role-based model Availability Emergency Responder Framework (AERF). This AERF ensures that a list of personnel for a particular role in an organization is always reachable to handle an emergency call. I develop a working prototype of the AERF framework for a local hospital that provides emergency cases. The prototype demonstrates the feasibility and security of the AERF framework and addresses the availability of emergency responders based on their assigned roles. In order to inform the general public of nearby emergencies, the Department of Homeland Security initiated the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), which utilized existing commercial telecommunication infrastructures to broadcast emergency alert text messages to all mobile users in an area affected by an emergency. One of the limitations of the Cell Broadcast Service (CBS) is that the smallest area that CMAS can broadcast its message is a cell site, which is, in most cases, quite large for small-scale emergencies. I propose an enhancement to CMAS by using CMAS as a transport protocol to distribute small-scale emergency alerts to areas that are smaller than a cell site. I also suggest a proper enhancement to the CAP 1.2 message structure for CMAS emergency alerts. Another limitation of CMAS messages is the maximum message size of 90 characters of clear text. I propose an enhancement to CMAS by using a combination of different encoding techniques and emergency protocol standard including the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP 1.2) to provide alert messages with meaningful and rich content. I show the viability of our solution using a prototype implementation that can generate and broadcast CMAS emergency alerts through Emergency Response Alert System (ERAlert) to Android phones where an Emergency Response Application (ERApp) will intercept, decode, and display meaningful alerts to users. Lastly, I propose a Navigation Assistance Framework (NAF) that allows emergency organizations to provide emergency information that can be filtered through the traffic patterns in order to assist victims navigate out of the emergency and reach their intended destinations in a reasonable amount of time. I develop a ERSimMon to simulate this capability in a small scale to show the effectiveness of my solution.



Computer science, Availability, CMAS, Communications, Emergency, Emergency Responder, Navigation Assistance