Effective and timely decision-making is critical during emergency and crisis management. In order to be effective, decision-making requires that the best possible information is gathered, assessed and analysed, in order to provide an understanding of what is happening, why it matters and what might happen. This information will enable effective choices to be made and thereby support positive outcomes. However, little information may be available during crises and emergencies. The information that is available, may in fact come from unreliable sources, be too ambiguous and the situation changing too quickly, to allow for confident and appropriate decisions to be made. It is therefore crucial that information from all sources is assessed appropriately.
Different views exists regarding what constitutes good quality data and information, but the core considerations remain to be; timeliness, relevance and accuracy. Relevance is the ability of information to meet the real needs of the end users, timeliness refers to the degree of the currency attached to the information, while accuracy is a measure of how much information reflects the underlying reality of a situation. The quality of information available can influence the degree of situational awareness held by individuals and teams. Situation awareness is the state of individual and/or collective knowledge relating to past and current events, and the implications on potential future developments. Endsley (1995) identifies the three basic levels of situational awareness, which have been viewed to be central to the area;
Perception. Building a complete picture what is happening at the event level.
Comprehension. Developing an understanding of events,