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Team of Researchers Developing Automated Systems for Improving Post-Disaster Emergency Response

Minutes after the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center's north tower on September 11, information began to flow from the site to police, firefighters and other emergency personnel. The situation and information flow became more complex when a second plane flew into the WTC's south tower, and even more complicated when both towers subsequently collapsed.

This same type of communication "overload" happens during and immediately after natural disasters and other situations where many pieces of information are arriving in a short period of time from a multiplicity of sources. Decisions often need to be made on the basis of this information, which at times may be conflicting.

MCEER is part of a team, led by the University at Buffalo's Center for Multisource Information Fusion, that is developing software tools to fuse the many channels of information that begin flowing following a major disaster. MCEER's role is to provide actual data from the Northridge, California earthquake, augmented by expert opinion from the minutes, hours, days and weeks after the event. This data will then be "fused" and embedded in an urban emergency management and crisis management system.

The work is funded by a five-year, $2.5 million grant awarded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to the Calspan-UB Research Center (CUBRC). Other partners include the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, Veridian Corp., Alphatech, Inc., Orincon Corp. and IET, Inc.

The principal investigator is Professor James Llinas, UB research professor of industrial engineering and director of the Center for Multisource Information Fusion. George Lee coordinates MCEER's task. Other members of the MCEER team include Ronald Eguchi, ImageCat, Inc., Kathleen Tierney, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Mai Tong, University at Buffalo and Dorothy Tao, MCEER Information Service.

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