Network analysis for search areas in WiSAR operations

Sebastian Drexel, Susanne Zimmermann-Janschitz, Robert J. Koester

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    Purpose - A search and rescue incident is ultimately all about the location of the missing person; hence, geotechnical tools are critical in providing assistance to search planners. One critical role of Geographic Information Systems (GISs) is to define the boundaries that define the search area. The literature mostly focuses on ring- and area-based methods but lacks a linear/network approach. The purpose of this paper is to present a novel network approach that will benefit search planners by saving time, requires less data layers and provides better results.

    Design/methodology/approach - The paper compares two existing models (Ring Model, Travel Time Cost Surface Model (TTCSM)) against a new network model (Travel Time Network Model) by using a case study from a mountainous area in Austria. Newest data from the International Search and Rescue Incident Database are used for all three models. Advantages and disadvantages of each model are evaluated.

    Findings - Network analyses offer a fruitful alternative to the Ring Model and the TTCSM for estimating search areas, especially for regions with comprehensive trail/road networks. Furthermore, only few basic data are needed for quick calculation.

    Practical implications - The paper supports GIS network analyses for wildland search and rescue operations to raise the survival chances of missing persons due to optimizing search area estimation.

    - The paper demonstrates the value of the novel network approach, which requires fewer GIS layers and less time to generate a solution. Furthermore, the paper provides a comparison between all three potential models.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Services
    Early online date12 Apr 2018
    Publication statusEarly online - 12 Apr 2018


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