Responding to an emergency requires access to and understanding of many types of information. Effective, coordinated operations for the response are based on a shared, common picture of the situation. Interoperability provides shared situational awareness of the crisis and the response activities.
What is needed is a common picture of reality for different organizations that have different views of the event so that they all can deal with it collectively.
A Common Operating Picture (COP) is a computing platform based on Geographical Information System (GIS) technology that provides a single source of data and information for situational awareness, coordination, communication and data archival to support emergency management and response personnel and other stakeholders involved in or affected by an incident.
Effective situational awareness tools deliver a crystal clear operational view based on accurate, timely information.
The information must be prioritized and organized to ensure that time-sensitive data is not only transmitted and delivered, but also appropriately filtered to raise the most critical information to the forefront of the decision-maker.
Information must then be shared up, down and across joint operational teams to ensure success both during normal operating periods and during an emergency response.