PROMES: An ontology‐based messaging service for semantically interoperable information exchange during disaster response

Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 28 (3):324-338 (2020)
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Disaster response requires the cooperation of multiple emergency responder organizations (EROs). However, after‐action reports relating to large‐scale disasters identity communication difficulties among EROs as a major hindrance to collaboration. On the one hand, the use of two‐radio communication, based on multiple orthogonal frequencies and uneven coverage, has been shown to degrade inter‐organization communication. On the other hand, because they reflect different areas of expertise, EROs use differing terminologies, which are difficult to reconcile. These issues lead to ambiguities, misunderstandings, and inefficient exchange of data and information among those involved, which can impede the response process and slow decision making. We, therefore, hypothesize that promoting semantic interoperability across ERO information systems might improve information exchange among stakeholders and thereby allow a more coherent response to the disaster. We propose an ontology‐based messaging service on the basis of the Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) standards. The parties involved will continue to use the terminologies to which they are accustomed, but the system will resolve inconsistencies and thereby enhance mutual understanding among EROs by ensuring semantic translation of the exchanged information. The evaluation of the semantic translation demonstrated the effectiveness and accuracy of the proposed service.

Author Profiles

J. Neil Otte
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Barry Smith
University at Buffalo


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