Development of an open-source mobile application for emergency data collection

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi och ekosystemvetenskap

Abstract: This Master degree project identified disasters and emergencies as a global humanitarian and technological challenge. Emergency management organizations' need for access to accurate and up-to-date information about the emergency situation, to help respond to, recover from and mitigate the effects of disasters and emergencies, presents a challenge to the field of Geomatics. Today the use of remote sensing technologies presents an increasing number of solutions. There are types of spatial data, however, e.g. submerged, non-visual or otherwise hidden features that still require emergency field personnel and volunteers to interpret and record. By utilizing the increasing ubiquity and computational power of modern smartphones, in order to reach a large number of potential users and volunteers, a mobile application for emergency field data collection was developed. It was developed as a component of a system that, in order to be as collaborative, adaptable and accessible as possible, also to resource-poor organizations, was, with a minor exception, completely open-source licensed. Field trials were held that, due to low participation, could not conclusively evaluate the application and its general applicability to emergency field data collection. They did, however, provide an adequate proof-of-concept and showed that it was possible to apply the application and the implemented system to a specific emergency field data collection task. The system has great collaborative potential, achieved through openness, mobility, standards compliance, multi-source capability and adaptability. Its administrators are given a high degree of control that lets them adapt the system to suit the current users and situation and its flexibility make it widely applicable, not only for emergency management. From literature, the field trials and the experience gained while developing and using the application, some ideas for improving the application and the system were discussed and some future research topics were suggested.

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