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Project Description

The objective of the Common Operation Picture Exploitation (COPE) project is to achieve a significant improvement in emergency response management command and control performance, reliability, and cost. New solutions will be created by combining a user oriented human factors approach with the technology development. The aim is a step improvement in information flow both from and to the first responder in order to increase situational awareness across agencies and at all levels of the command chain in emergency management situations.

Figure 1. Schematic representation of an organisation of multi-agency first response activity (Finland). (Click to enlarge)

A user-driven approach is taken to develop new technologies for supporting user information requirements at the scene of the event. First responders belong to a heterogeneous group in terms of emergency environments as well as roles, command structure, organisational and national differences. The project applies a wide range of human factors methods from functional task modelling to end user simulations to better understand the processes of individual agencies and to ensure that new systems both match requirements and can be integrated with legacy processes and technologies.

The project started on 1 February 2008 and the first reporting period ended on 31 January 2009. The first milestone of the project “Use case descriptions” was achieved. The work included multiple interviews of end users, internal meetings, and workshops. Three different emergency situations were analysed and approaches for modelling and transform of accident scenarios into use cases were created. The different human factors modelling approaches were analysed and developed further.

Figure 2: Common Operational Picture COP (Click to enlarge)

A generic concept of Common Operational Picture (COP) has been defined (Figure 2) as the description in time of the emergency situation that supports the emergency responders within and between different agencies to act appropriately. The primary functions of the COP are to support the development and maintenance of common ground and to support coordinated action across actors. The term Concept of Operations (CONOPS) is used to indicate the design target that composes the work organisation, human activity and technologies. The new CONOPS developed in COPE project will be based on a model of current first responder operations.

Figure 3: A description of technologies related to a COPE design study. (Click to enlarge)

The second milestone “End user requirements” was achieved during the second period that ended on 31 January 2010. It includes the specification of the field work methodology and establishing end user cooperation with several agencies and fire fighter incident commanders. First responder activity was observed and over twenty interviews in three countries were accomplished. Methods and technologies were reviewed for information model development, command and control solutions, sensors integration, communication, and decision support.

The third milestone “Scenario descriptions from a user perspective“ was also achieved during the second period. The document describes the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are used in the evaluation of COPE technologies. In the same document also the human factors informed requirements for the test scenario are presented. Two leading ideas were developed. First, it is maintained that the evaluation has two forms, verification and validation. The distinction between them is important because the focus of evaluation differs depending on which one is in question. Verification focuses on controlling the fulfilment of the set of requirements for the designed applications. In contrast to this, validation is more synthetic in nature. It is focused on evaluating the added value of the COPE technologies to the emergency response activity as such. Thus validation is based on comprehensive analysis of the first responder activity during the final tests. Validation has an integrative character and considers first responder behaviour from a context-dependent point of view. The second theoretical idea proposed in the deliverable is the set of systems usability metrics which identifies different types of indicators.

The goal of the technology mapping work package was to align the user requirements with the technology solutions by brokering and technology mapping; to define the system architecture for technology solutions, and to develop user driven scenarios as well as defining the key performance indicators. The technology mapping process is a continuous one of analysis of interim findings from the human factors and the technology work, and consultation between end-users and technology developers as potential solutions are tested and evaluated. In the technology solutions work package, a systems integration task brings together the outputs of the other tasks addressing the areas of command and control, sensors, communication, decision support and first responder solutions. The final solutions will be trialled and evaluated in realistic scenarios with end users.

The first COPE design study trials were successfully carried out in the facilities of the Emergency Response Centre (ESC) in Kuopio (Finland, May 2009) and later in the premises of IGSU in Bucharest (Romania, February 2010).

Figure 4: COPE trial in ESC premises in May 2010 (Click to enlarge)

In May 2010 a user demostration and a technology integration study was carried out in Kuopio ESC training grounds. In the tests the developed technolgies worked as intended and a large amount of data was collected about the usage of the systems. Many operational enhancement needs were identified and during the summer of 2010 these were implemented by the technology developers. 

Figure 5: COPE system of systems (Click to enlarge)

A final demostration of COPE system of systems was carried out in Kuopio Emergency Services College training grounds on September 23rd 2010. In the trial various COPE technologies to support common operational picture exploitation were demostrated. The results from the demostration are reported in COPE deliverables.

COPE uses the Tactical Situation Object (TSO, http://www.tacticalsituationobject.org/) for exchanging information and the data used in the system is defined in the COPE Data Dictionary .


More information

Project Coordinator:  
Dr. Jari Hämäläinen
Technical Research Centre of Finland
P.O. Box 1000
FI-02044 VTT, Finland

Street address:
Vuorimiehentie 3, Espoo