NGCI: Next Generation Communication Interoperability

Ad-Hoc Networks and Self-Organizing Networks

Theme: 
Interoperability

Emergency management teams can always expect volunteers to emerge in emergency situations. This is called a convergence reaction. Research has shown that organized and trained volunteers are superior to spontaneous ones, although untrained persons often want to volunteer their time in emergency situations. Ad-hoc or self-organizing networks refer to individuals who volunteer their time and resources to aid in the community response to a disaster without prior affiliation with a volunteer organization. This effort is most often spontaneous without any monetary incentives.

The spontaneous relief groups formed often help with supply donation or clean-up efforts, which are low-risk activities. Self-organized networks can form based on physical proximity, such as a community coming together to distribute food to displaced persons. These networks can also form through social media websites or third-party websites, which affords citizens around the globe the opportunity to make monetary donations to the relief effort. After the emergency situation has returned to a relative level of normality, these networks disperse.

Even though volunteers provide extra manpower for emergency response, volunteer efforts can complicate response efforts. Volunteers may take on unacceptable health and safety risks, may take resources from the victims, and will most likely not have a command structure. After an earthquake in Mexico City in 1985, 2.2 rescuers died for each victim saved. This is a demonstration on the danger of untrained volunteers. Untrained volunteers are most commonly found in ad-hoc networks.

Questions for the Community: 
What do volunteers usually help with, in your experience?
What protocols do you have in place to handle volunteers?
Do volunteers do anything you wish they wouldn't?

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