Enabling Communication in Emergency Response Environments

Effective communication among first responders during response to natural and human-made large-scale catastrophes has increased tremendously during the last decade. However, most efforts to achieve a higher degree of effectiveness in communication lack synergy between the environment and the technology involved to support first responders operations. This article presents a natural and intuitive interface to support Stigmergy; or communication through the environment, based on intuitively marking and retrieving information from the environment with a pointer. A prototype of the system was built and tested in the field, however the pointing activity revealed challenges regarding accuracy due to limitations of the sensors used. The results obtained from these field tests were the basis for this research effort and will have the potential to enable communication through the environment for first responders operating in highly dynamical and inhospitable disaster relief environments.

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