Upcoming NJIT conference focuses on Hurricane Katrina, technology, more

A closer look at how people react during emergencies, the role of computers and technology and what really happened during Hurricane Katrina number among the topics to be discussed at the third annual meeting of the Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM). New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) will host the event May 14-17, 2006.

A panel focusing on Hurricane Katrina and how information technology did not work is expected to draw the largest crowd. "Researchers will detail how information management problems and information technology problems were significant factors in a failed response," said Murray Turoff, PhD, distinguished professor in the department of information systems at NJIT. "Members of this panel were either in New Orleans and involved at the time or brought in shortly afterwards to evaluate what occurred."

Other sessions will deal with the requirements and approaches to public warning systems and ways to improve the systems. One aim is to improve planetary monitoring by satellites for real time earthquake and tsunami alerts. Experts will also introduce new and significant efforts for improving time-dependent alerts and assessments.

At least five sessions will focus on how people function in crisis management. "Speakers will look at approaches to crisis decision-making, methods of visualizing complex situations and the challenges of multi- agency communications," said Turoff. "A number of case studies examine the role and impact that different stakeholders can have on the emergency management process."

The use of new technology for real-time medical sensing and analysis at emergency sites, as well as new robotic and communication devices for aiding first responders in their role, will be among other topics.

"In total, more than 60 outstanding sessions have been planned representing a rich interdisciplinary tapestry of topics," said Turoff. "In addition, there will be many opportunities for researchers to network and learn from each other. We see the meeting's primary value to bring both public and private sector practitioners and researchers up-to-date." Turoff is a founder of ISCRAM and event chairman.

Turoff anticipates attendance at the event to top 200. "Presenters are skilled in the design of modern information and communication systems," he said. About half of them live outside the US. They represent academe, industry and government.

Turoff noted that underlying all presentations and discussions are the issues of identifying requirements for information and communication systems. "In all phases of emergency preparedness and management," he said, "the improvement of current systems and the design of future systems will be impacted."

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Crisis management and the support of information and communication systems involves all phases of planning, training, detection, assessment, alerts, responses, recovery and evaluation. To register, visit either http://iscram.org or http://iscram06.njit.edu, telephone 1-800-624-9850, or email Turoff turoff@njit.edu or Bartel Van De Walle bartel@uvt.edu.


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