Abu Dhabi: Whether an emergency situation has erupted from a natural disaster or a man-made one, international standardised cooperation is required, said participants at the Crisis and Emergency Management Conference 2012, held in the capital yesterday.

"Urban search is a process of locating, extricating and providing medical treatment to victims trapped as a result of structural collapses and other natural accidents or man-made catastrophes," said Captain Ramiro Galvez, station commander, Fairfax Country Fire and Rescue Department in the United States.

Galvez said developing standardised procedures for international cooperation as well as a standard language to define urban area searches, in addition to promoting methodologies to disaster prone countries, were important.

Information sharing is a key component in crisis management, revealed the speakers.

Lack of sharing culture

"The right information at the right time through the right channels can save lives, and is more important than providing food and water," said Khalid Khalifa, head of the Middle East and Asia Bureau Integrated Regional Information Network.

Khalifa explained how providing data is a current challenge due to the lack of an information sharing culture, which might create gaps in decisions taken while dealing with crises.

Some of the challenges the UAE currently faces include "corporate culture reluctant to change, lack of cooperation, readiness of organisations, absence of quality digital data like roads for routing and geocoding, hiding errors and problems to avoid accountability and lack of guidelines to share data that are not classified as sensitive," said Hashem Al Hashemi, head of GIS section at the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) in the UAE.

"Numerical modelling, especially weather modelling, takes centre stage in preventing natural disasters," said Ahmad Al Khatheri, head of prevention section at NCEMA.

A cooperation is to take place with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that will employ the most advanced computing system in the region to predict natural disasters on a large scale.

The conference came up with recommendations for crisis management in the region that included guidelines and a unified system among the GCC countries to deal with emergencies.

The use of similar equipment, training, including education institutions, in strategies and planning as well as fostering awareness programmes for the public were deemed important.

Preventing rumour was also seen as important. Providing care and safety for people with special needs during crises, using technology and organising annual specialised conferences concluded the recommendations.