» Tracking of Survivors
        » Overview
        » Two Plans
                » Plan 1
                        » Preparation
                        » Database
                        » Wristbands
                        » Personnel Recruitment
                » Plan 2
                        » Preparation
                        » Detail Description
                        » Center of Command
                        » Formation of Teams

Overview & Purpose

  For a country hit by an unexpected tsunami, emergency response has to be carried out swiftly in an ordered manner to minimize loss. In addition to carrying out evacuation plans, sending out rescue teams, and providing immediate medical supplies, the prompt tracking of survivors and identification of the dead are also of vital importance. This part of the emergency response proposal covers the procedure of the tracking of survivors and the identification of the dead and provides a full picture of the flow of data and the logistics involved.
  So why do we have to track survivors and identify the dead immediately after the tsunami hits? There are several reasons to this. By keeping track of the distribution of the survivors, the resources can be allocated accordingly to prevent surplus (waste) in one region while shortage in another. Having an approximate number of missing people in different regions will assist the rescue teams in their work. Knowing the locations of the survivors and the dead helps the survivors in finding out the whereabouts of their families. The amount of funding and aid provided by the international agencies and other countries also rely on the accurate calculations of the survival rate and death toll. Finally, this process must be carried out in order to inform the world about the disaster and the damages brought by it.

The Plans

  There were two plans considered for the effective tracking of survivors. The first plan is the one we think will be most fitting, though it does not cover everything as fully as the latter. The second of these we deemed a bit intrusive and, although similar to the Driver's License system, possibly over-the-top and too invasive. The two plans are outlined below.

»Plan 1: Accepted

» Preparation

  To prepare for this plan, each evacuation site will be stocked with at least one laptop computer, a printer (as there are many wristbands to print, we suggest a laser-jet), and up to several thousand wristbands (depending on the location of the evacuation site). As technology needs to be upgraded over time, the laptops and printers will be replaced every 5 years or so. This is economically feasible considering the research done at MIT regarding the construction of sturdy $100 laptops. Laser-jet printers are also inexpensive (as low as $99 according to the Dell™ Home-page). As the technologies are inexpensive, they are easy to replace, and risk of theft is lowered. To ensure functionality through temperature extremes and high humidity, the computers and printers will be wrapped in plastic (airtight) to prevent water from getting in.

» Database

  To track survivors, we propose the following system. At the time of the tsunami, when people are entering the evacuation site, each person should be first entered into a national database using a program similar to the one used by the Red Cross. The Red Cross, using many laptops, is able to enter information about each resident (in this case, each person checking into the evacuation site) and share that information internally as well as with other relief agencies. The latest encryption technology is used to protect the information and ensure safety for each evacuee1. This allows for the best allocation of resources as there will be no needless re-entering of personal data if all the information is shared initially. The other benefit is the type of information that can be gathered.
  The information we believe to be vital is Name, Age, Origin (home address), Names of family members you are with, Names of missing family members with a list of distinguishing characteristics of each, and dietary/medical needs.
    The Name and Age: These will be used for identification purposes. As multiple people may have the same name, age will be used to differentiate between what a program would see as similar people.
    Origin: This will be used to determine when the evacuees can go home. As some parts may not be affected or at least be less affected by the tsunami, knowing the origin of a person will determine when that person can leave the evacuation site. Obviously, the person cannot leave unless his/her home is undamaged or restored with running water, heat, power, etc. The computer network will allow the technician at the evacuation site to see which areas on the coast are damaged.
    Names of missing family members with a list of distinguishing characteristics:
      This will be useful for the following reasons:
  1. People will be able to see which of their family members are safely at one of the other evacuation locations

  2. There will be an accurate list of the missing and possibly dead, which could aid in the projections for fatalities. The list of distinguishing characteristics would aid in identifying unidentified corpses or unconscious patients. This should also include information about last known location. In this way, we would limit the number of incorrectly identified bodies.

    Dietary/Medical needs: This is mentioned below in "Wristbands."
  The database must be put online so that people around the world can know about the situation. Statistics such as the survivor distribution will also be released by the center of command to the media for announcements.

» Wristbands

  Upon "check-in" and entry into the database, each person will be given a wristband printed on site. This will be an identification bracelet2. One member of each family will be assigned to be "Head of Household." This will be the representative who will receive food for the family and deal with the authority running the camp. This would be very efficient as there would be fewer people to deal with directly. The wristbands would also indicate dietary needs so that special groups like vegetarians and people who are lactose intolerant, eat accordingly and get vitamin supplements to ensure health and wellness in the camp. Medical needs will also be listed. This information will be useful when the medical supplies arrive and diabetics, for example, will need insulin. Having the medical information on the wristband will prevent people from unfairly getting medicine they do not need, which will ensure for the best possible allocation of resources.
  For special cases, there may be confusion on how the Head-of-Household system should work. In the case of orphans, we came up with 3 viable options:
  1. the orphan becomes the Head of Household
  2. a group of orphans will elect the oldest as "Head of Household (though there could be issues with bullying as children can be brutal)
  3. a teacher, NGO, or other "responsible adult" will be the Head of Household for a group of orphans. As young orphans may not be able to care for themselves, it may be better for option 2 or 3, but as older orphans may be self-sufficient enough to handle the responsibility, option 1 or 2 would also work.
  Printing all this information onto the wristbands allows for minimal confusion with messy handwriting, much in the same way that the digital database will lessen paperwork and make the tracking process more efficient.
  As paper wristbands may have difficulty enduring for the entirety of each person's stay at the camp, we suggest the use of plastic or vinyl wristbands used with super tac adhesive stickers to ensure that the stickers never run a risk of falling off3. As these stickers are usually sold in roles and custom-made by the manufacturer, there is currently no way to do this, though hypothetically, the stickers could be made into sheets, printed on site, and then applied to the wristbands. 1,000 super tac adhesive stickers may be purchased for $76.803. Normal labels are about $567.00 for 48004. Vinyl hospital wristbands are $65.00 for $500.00, while plastic bands are $55.00 for $500.005. Paper wristbands are only $15.50 for 5006.

» Personnel and Recruitment

  The people responsible for check-in and the entry of each person into the database will also have an additional responsibility: wristbands.
  Wristbands will be printed based on information attained during the check-in process. The information entered into the database will automatically print the proper wristband, meaning that there is no additional training necessary to aid in their distribution. Those in charge of the check-in process will also be ensuring the proper distribution of wristbands, as it requires no additional training.

»Plan 2: Denied

» Preparation

  For the work of tracking survivors and identifying the dead to be carried out smoothly and immediately after the tsunami hits, preparation has to be done beforehand.
  A database containing personal information and picture of every citizen of Peru and Micronesia could be built. This can be done during the national census of the two countries. Rules governing the issuing of birth certificates and dead certificates would have to be carried out strictly. The immigration departments of the two countries would need to keep track of every foreigner entering or leaving the country. With this database, the GPS-based Survivor Tracking and Recovery System (STAR), developed by Cubic to track downed or missing pilots, could be used to track each citizen7.
  Manpower is an important factor while tracking survivors and identifying the dead. Recruitment of volunteers should be done beforehand. At least 600 volunteers have to be recruited for Micronesia and 2500 for Peru due to the large population. Among these volunteers, 70% should be local volunteers while the rest can be recruited from all over the world, preferably from countries near Micronesia and Peru. For local volunteers, local guides who know the regions well have to be included in addition to professionals and college students having specialties that will be mentioned in the following section. Volunteers with no specialty can also help. Foreign helpers, on the other hand, should mainly consist of professionals who can utilize their specialties to increase the efficiency of work and to make sure everything flows smoothly. Types of professionals needed are mentioned in the next section.
Detailed description of the tracking of survivors, the identification of the dead and the logistics involved:
  The whole team consists of a center of command with individual teams that will be in the affected regions collecting data and carrying out fieldwork. The center of command will be with the center for rescue team so as to facilitate the exchange of information between the two centers. At least 50 people will be required to stay in the center of command for Micronesia, and 150 for Peru. The rest of the volunteers will be split up into different teams, which will each be responsible for the work in the assigned region. For Micronesia, each team should consist of approximately 50 volunteers, while the number of volunteers in each team for Peru should be no less than 100.
  When a tsunami hits, the center of command will be set up immediately so that work can be carried out without delay. Volunteers responsible for staying in the center of command should live near the place where the center of command is to be set up. For the teams that are spread all around the country, local volunteers should report to the center of command promptly and gather together to start work. Meanwhile, specialists from other countries will be informed immediately and they will arrive the earliest they could. Some will stay at the center of command and others will travel to the affected regions to help the teams in the peripheral.
  Formation of center of command:
  • At least 5 volunteers responsible for coordinating the whole process
  • At least 30 volunteers for data merging and processing
  • At least 20 volunteers who have experiences in computer networking and communication
  • At least 20 international experts who can help out with the different aspects
  Formation of each team:
  • At least 10 local guides
  • At least 5 computer scientists to deal with matter related to networking and computers
  • At least 5 professionals who have experiences in the identification of the dead
  • At least 5 volunteers from the medical field who have experiences in clinical work
  • At least 10 volunteers who can help out with data processing and other miscellaneous matters
  • At least 5 international experts who can help out with the different aspects
  In order to start work, the center of command and the teams have to be equipped with laptops and communication devices which can establish connection between the center of command and the teams in the affected regions. The primary communication devices used will be low-tech radios. Each team must also have the database containing information of the two countries' citizens.

   1. American Red Cross, (Sept 2005), American Red Cross Making Client Service Faster, More Efficient, Red Cross Press Release
   2. Dennis, Jan, (Oct 2005), Illinois lawmaker helps hurricane survivors track down loved ones, The Associated Press State & Local Wire
   3. Custom labels-custom roll labels, die-cut roll labels and butt-cut roll labels from Designery Signs(2004). Retrieved November 23, 2005 http://www.designerysigns.com/labels-menu-for-custom-labels.htm
   4. Business Card CD/DVD Labels -- Rectangular Glossy. Retrieved November 23, 2005 http://www.noshippingfee.com/000lbbzrtgs.html
   5. Discount Wristbands-Wristband World LLC. Retrieved November 23, 2005 http://www.discountwristbands.com
   6. Wristband Express. Retrieved November 23, 2005 http://www.wristbandexpress.com
   7. Anonymous, (Sept 2002), Cubic Introduces New Satellite Products, Communications Today, 8, 174, p.1