Situational Awareness

“Well, I think first of all there was a failure to have real, clear information at our disposal. There was a real lack of situational awareness. We didn’t have the capabilities on the ground to give us real-time, accurate assessments of the physical condition of the city.”

Michael Chertoff
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security 2005 – 2009

Situational awareness involves being aware of what is happening in an event or incident, in order to understand how information, events, and one’s own actions will impact goals and objectives, both immediately and in the near future. Inadequate situational awareness has been identified as one of the primary factors in poor decision making or accidents attributed to human error. Thus, good situational awareness is especially important in work domains where the information flow can be quite high and poor decisions may lead to serious consequences (e.g., combat operations, managing emergency operations, or law enforcement concerns.)

Having complete, accurate and up-to-the-minute situational awareness is essential where technological and situational complexity on the human decision-maker is a concern. Situational awareness has been recognized as a critical, yet often elusive, foundation for successful decision-making across a broad range of complex and dynamic systems, including aviation, air traffic control, ship navigation, health care, emergency response and military command and control operations.

Another aspect to good situational awareness is a common operating picture. Inadequate situational awareness can also be viewed as an overflow of information. Too much intelligence received too quickly can cause critical information to be missed or misinterpreted. A common operating picture (COP) is a clearing house for information, providing time critical intelligence in a format that can be easily read, interpreted and digested. A common operation picture takes divergent pieces of situational awareness information and places them in one common picture. The COP enables effective decision making and appropriate mission execution.

Brocato and Associates is at the forefront of common operating picture development and implementation. We have worked with developers and users to bring together all forms of intelligence to create good situational awareness and a good COP. Throughout the years we have also used a COP during many events and incidents. Let us help you develop a common operating picture for your business or organization or public safety agency.