Visualization and collaboration tools for emergency response

Precision Information Environment for Coordinated Emergency Support (PIECES)

During a disaster, emergency personnel must collaborate with a diverse staff distributed across numerous sites and operations centers. Emergency responders can be overwhelmed by the staggering amount of time-sensitive information coming in through different software applications and the critical pace by which this information has to be understood and distributed to other personnel. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has brought together a diverse team of universities, small businesses, and Federal Research centers and National Laboratories to develop components that target these needs.

Simulated image from Charles River Analytics project PIECES.

The Charles River Analytics Solution

As one of DHS’s partners, Charles River has developed the visualization and communication components of a Precision Information Environment for Coordinated Emergency Support (PIECES). PIECES is part of an effort to develop integrated collaborative work environments that help teams of emergency responders share and manipulate data sources. PIECES enables responders to:

  • View multiple information resources through a single access point
  • Support manipulation, understanding, and exploitation of data sources through multi-modal displays
  • Share and manipulate data sources in real-time

This figure shows an integrated view of incidents pulled from a city dispatch; high priority incidents are more opaque and visible to the user. Local hospitals are shown by the H symbol; the bigger the symbol, the more hospital beds are available. This information is pulled in dynamically from a hospital’s data feeds.

The Benefit

PIECES integrates critical data from multiple sources and communications channels and presents them through interfaces that emergency personnel can tailor to their needs. Firefighters, police, and other rescue workers can access the information they need in real time. PIECES allows these and other First Responders to share such information, which is vital to collaboration across federal, state, and local agencies and jurisdictions. By providing a more integrated perspective across these boundaries, PIECES provides a unique opportunity to improve the lifesaving capabilities of emergency responders in large-scale disasters.

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