BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo researchers studying the
response to the 2006 "October Surprise" storm have concluded that
the effective coordination of emergency services played a critical
role in decision making during the crisis.
In a paper examining the "Incident Command System" used by Erie
County in responding to the natural disaster, the researchers
investigated the coordination of the tasks, resources, technology
and personnel utilized in the emergency response efforts.
The authors of the paper include three members of the UB School
of Management's Department of Management Science and Systems: H.R.
Rao, professor, Raj Sharman, assistant professor, and Rui Chen,
doctoral student; as well as Catherine P. Cook-Cottone, assistant
professor of counseling, school and educational psychology in the
Graduate School of Education; and Shambhu Upadhyaya, associate
professor of computer science and engineering in the School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The ongoing research is being funded by a $30,000 grant from the
National Science Foundation.
Disaster planning, response and mitigation are components of
UB's research focus on "extreme events," identified as one of the
university's strategic strengths in the UB 2020 strategic plan. The
group will work under the umbrella of UB's Center of Excellence in
Information Systems Assurance Research and Education (CEISARE),
which is co-directed by Upadhyaya and Rao.
While the paper concludes that the incident coordination during
the storm was ultimately deemed successful, it also outlines many
lessons learned from the process that can improve operational
effectiveness in the future.
For example, the researchers found that some of the key decision
makers lacked the proper knowledge and expertise to handle the
disaster because they were appointed by county officials who were
not familiar with emergency operations. The researchers recommend
that personnel serving in a decision-making capacity be chosen
based on expertise and that a database of experts be assembled.
Also, while the technology was in place to coordinate efforts
via DisasterLAN, a Web-based incident management system for
decision support, it was discovered that many agencies did not have
proper training to use the system, thus slowing down emergency
efforts. The researchers recommend increased education and training
across the agencies.
Chen will present the team's findings at the "Decision Support
for Extreme Events: Learning from Success and Failure" workshop in
December prior to the International Conference on Information
Systems in Montreal.
The same team has two other studies under way using research
from the October storm. In one project they are investigating
affect and behavior issues as they relate to first responders
(emergency personnel) in an extreme event, including the subjects'
response patterns when transitioning from normal routine operating
conditions to emergency conditions.
In the other project the researchers are examining risks to
hospital information systems when faced with extreme events. The
team is working closely with health-care facilities in the Buffalo
region on this research.
The Wall Street Journal ranks the UB School of Management 9th in
the nation among schools with strong regional recruiting bases. In
addition, BusinessWeek ranks the school as one of the country's top
5 business schools for the fastest return on MBA investment, and
Forbes cites it as one of the best business schools in the U.S. for
the return on investment it provides MBA graduates.
For more information about the UB School of Management, visit http://mgt.buffalo.edu.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue
their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate,
graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the
University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American