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Oct312010

MERCI - Mobile Damage Assessment

Mobile Emergency Response and Command Interface (MERCI) was developed to allow first responders to make quick, accurate damage assessments following a natural disaster. Utilizing commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) mobile  devices to fill out forms, take photographs/video, and add a GPS location, information is immediately available with MERCI. Mobile devices such as smartphones (iPhone/Android) are affordable and widely distributable, extending the reach of the technology to the community level. MERCI reduces multiple data entry, is highly customizable, and is intuitive and easy to use.

Backend command and control functionality provides centralization of data at the emergency operations center (EOC). MERCI is lightweight, highly configurable, and can integrate with other enterprise systems.

Challenge: Following a natural disaster, damage assessments need to be made immediately so that the magnitude and impact can be documented. The ability to recognize the scope and severity of an emergency accurately and quickly, and allocate or acquire limited resources is essential for the safety and health of the citizens impacted. Many states still write down assessments on pencil and paper, which takes time and needs to be transcribed accurately from handwritten notes into the database.

Anyone who has collected data in the field knows how difficult it is to assemble data after it is collected. Details about locations and memories about a site visit begin to decay exponentially over time. 

State civil defense and emergency services offices need easy-to-use, secure, and reliable data gathering tools that are integrated with backend analytical and reporting systems. A flexible system is also needed that can be easily adopted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to facilitate their assistance during an emergency.

Innovation Delivered: MERCI (Mobile Emergency Response and Command Interface) is a system developed by Oceanit for conducting and managing emergency damage assessments following a natural disaster. The MERCI system allows responders to collect multiple data types (text, photo, video) and securely upload the information to a MERCI server where data can be analyzed in real-time at an emergency operations center (EOC). 

Features of MERCI include: 

  • Uses FEMA damage assessment forms or create custom forms to fit special requirements 
  • Links geo-referenced photographs, videos, and assessments
  • Auto-populates data fields for property re-visits
  • Contains built in reports and queries to calculate real-time damage estimates
  • Map interface visually displays different types of assessments and the spatial distribution of damage
  • Operate the private iPhone app on secure communication channels and, more importantly, in 'local' mode when wireless communication infrastructure is unavailable
  • Improve resource allocation and route planning
  • Provides an easy and intuitive data entry platform via the iPhone

Benefits of MERCI include:

  • More accurate data collection with less chance for error
  • More data can be collected, included multimedia
  • Real time situational awarenes from EOC

A public version, myMERCI, is also available to assist anyone with property documentation and recovery after a disaster. 

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