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Emergency response requires strategic assessment of risks, decisions, and communications that are time critical while requiring teams of individuals to have fast access to large volumes of complex information and technologies that enable tightly coordinated work. The access to this information by crisis management teams in emergency operations centers can be facilitated through various human-computer interfaces. Unfortunately, these interfaces are hard to use, require extensive training, and often impede rather than support teamwork. Dialogue-enabled devices, based on natural, multimodal interfaces, have the potential of making a variety of information technology tools accessible during crisis management. This paper establishes the importance of multimodal interfaces in various aspects of crisis management and explores many issues in realizing successful speech-gesture driven, dialogue-enabled interfaces for crisis management. This paper is organized in five parts. The first part discusses the needs of crisis management that can be potentially met by the development of appropriate interfaces. The second part discusses the issues related to the design and development of multimodal interfaces in the context of crisis management. The third part discusses the state of the art in both the theories and practices involving these human-computer interfaces. In particular, it describes the evolution and implementation details of two representative systems, Crisis Management (XISM) and Dialog Assisted Visual Environment for Geoinformation (DAVE_G). The fourth part speculates on the short-term and long-term research directions that will help addressing the outstanding challenges in interfaces that support dialogue and collaboration. Finally, the fifth part concludes the paper.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2003