Situations regarding terrorism, floods, epidemics etc. are quite improbable yet real, so there must be systems dealing with them. In movies, a 15-or-so feet tall screen presents either a map with cities and big numbers or big progress bar - Hollywood productions present nothing but eyecandies building up the atmosphere.
Let's try to separate fiction from reality. My assumption is that improbable, non-typical situations may need flexible approach, but due to potential chaos in such situations, user actions should be streamlined, simplified, clear and accessible.
There are not many resources on the Internet about it, or these are hard to find. One that I have found is: http://www.emd.wa.gov/telcom/telcom_emergency_alerting_systems.shtml, plus there is an article on Wikipedia regarding emergency population wartning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_population_warning - but described here are mainly broadcasting services, not situation management tools etc. I assume such system should at least:
- offer general support for the users regarding information how to deal with standard situations (first aid, safety, food preparation etc.)
- offer communication features for informing citizens about situation
- letting them send reports from the field
- support multi-channel, streamlined information broadcasting (Internet, TV, radio) to avoid chaos
Because the interface of such system is not what people deal with on daily basis, two questions arise:
From the perspective of people dealing with the situation: what is the proper approach for granting reasonable balance between ease of use versus access to (probably) massive information amounts?
From the perspective of citizens: what is the proper approach for simplifying and streamlining information for these users and what features should be implemented to serve this function?