Factors Limiting the Scope of ITS Technologies in Disaster Relief Operations

Factors Limiting the Scope of ITS Technologies in Disaster Relief Operations


Izza Anwer, University of Leeds, UK / University of Engineeringa Nd Technology, Lahore, Pakistan, Susan Grant-Muller, University of Leeds, UK, Dr Frank Lai, University of Leeds, UK


Two case studies in Pakistan were used to investigate unutilized scope of ITS in managing transport system under disasters. Eleven factors are identified showing different perspectives of ITS in different disasters and localities.


The goal of this research was to investigate the extent to which different Intelligent Transport System technologies (ITS) are utilized to manage and maintain the transport system in a disaster situation. This paper contributes to the state of the art by identifying the hurdles to harnessing the benefits offered by ITS during disaster relief operations. It was hypothesised that the potential benefits of ITS technologies are currently underutilised and poorly recognised in this context. Two different disasters; predictable (flood) and unpredictable (earthquake), were compared by studying two case studies in Pakistan. The case studies concerned Head Marala (floods in the river Chenab), and Islamabad (earthquakes near Margala hills). They were selected due to the frequency of disasters and differences in demography, urbanization and technological development in each region. Data collection and analysis were undertaken using a modified Q-methodology technique in SPSS, Excel and MATLAB. The amendments to the Q-methodology technique are not reported here, but are the topic of a further paper.

ITS technologies were categorized into two main categories on the basis of their use; ITS-1 (71 statements) such as social media, smartphones, TV and Web 2 technologies and ITS-2 (45 statements) such as remote sensing, GPS, CCTV cameras and drones. ITS-1 includes those technologies that enhance communication between different groups of people such as general public, vulnerable people and authorities and between authorities whilst ITS-2 technologies are highly advanced and enhance remotely controlled operations to sustain transport and traffic system under floods and earthquakes. These ITS technologies were evaluated in pre, during and post scenarios of both disasters. Experts working in ITS technologies and transport sectors, flood management, environmental, metrological and city and transport planning departments were contacted for data collection and interviewed using snowball and chain sampling techniques.
An inverted factor analysis technique was used to identify eleven factors. Firstly, the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin and Bartlett’s test were used to check the adequacy of the sample. Correlation analysis was performed to compare the differences and similarities of opinions of different experts by treating them as variables in inverted factor analysis. Factors were then extracted and rotated to better understand the hidden patterns in the data. As oblique rotation (Direct Oblimin) method of rotation was used. The pattern and structure of matrices, along with factor loading plots, were used to compute factor scores. For each response, an array collected from each expert was weighted and standardized to allocate factor scores. Based on the factor scores, responses were interpreted and the factors were named.
In total, eleven factors were identified that need to be addressed in order to better manage the transport and traffic system in disasters using information and communications from a wide range of ITS technologies.
Identified factors for each case study are given below:

Head Marala Floods: ITS-1
1. Absence of formal (standard) information delivery system
2. Lack of Operational coordination during execution of rescue and emergency operations

Head Marala Floods: ITS-2
3. Lack of plan for formal ITS technology deployment
4. Lack of obeying traffic and transport system code of behaviour by road users
5. Under-deployed ITS technologies

Islamabad Earthquakes: ITS-1
6. Formal and laborious information flow between departments
7. Lack of collaboration between all stakeholders
8. Lack of an ITS enhanced rescue and emergency system

Islamabad Earthquakes: ITS-2
9. Les flexibility in sharing information data and the absence of a data bank
10. Fewer available resources and more disaster affected people
11. Lack of implementation / practice of planned strategies

It was concluded that the differences in deployment of ITS technologies are quite prominent for urban and non-urban areas as well as for predictable and unpredictable disaster. The utilization of ITS in earthquake relief is better in Islamabad compared to flood relief in Head-Marala. In Head Marala, practical reforms and a framework are required to merge ITS with the existing transport system during flood relief. In Islamabad, more focus is required on authoritative information flow, collaboration among institutions and further advancement in the rescue and emergency system. Traffic discipline is well maintained in Islamabad compared to Head-Marala. In addition, a shared and accessible data bank is required. When designing a framework for the deployment of ITS technologies with a disaster prone transport system, the general public should be involved in order to get their perspective and input. Furthermore, awareness raising and training of the general public is needed so that they can act as well-trained immediate responders. Disaster relief operations cannot rely entirely on the authorities and technologies, but needs the effective involvement of all stakeholders.


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