A visual language for situational awareness
DeMarco, David L.
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What is the best way for the various responder silos to communicate situational awareness information across complex homeland security incidents? With the advent of wireless data networks, homeland security responders have the opportunity to instantly communicate vast volumes of information across myriad local, state, and federal resources. Finding a common, interoperable language for a network-centric response environment is essential to avoid duplicating the patchwork of communication techniques in place today. A comparative analysis between Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security finds the agencies have very similar situational awareness needs. The Department of Defense is more advanced in its development of networked situational awareness communication. The humble map lies at the heart of situational awareness tools and requires a common visual language to be interoperable. This thesis recommends a common national symbols set that visually communicates situational awareness across a network. Applying semiotic principles to symbols creates a visual metalanguage that answers not only What? and Where? questions, but also provides essential operational context by incorporating the attributes of incident resources into the symbols themselves.
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