Evaluating the initial impact of a large-scale disaster can be difficult and misdiagnosing the breadth and severity of an event may lead to a misallocation of response resources. During natural disaster response preparation, multiple classes of distributional and deep uncertainty affect decision making, increasing the range of effects influencing strategic and tactical resource allocation plans. Planning tools for humanitarian aid and disaster response (HADR) centers must address robustness of operations despite these “fog of uncertainty” factors, rather than calculate an efficient point estimate. This paper addresses needs to identify and improve issues affecting HADR response, including mechanisms to increase the robustness of HADR plans and response capabilities. It is not necessary nor viable to eliminate all uncertainty in response allocation decisions. Instead, an exogenous uncertainties, policy levers, relationships, and measures (XLRM) chart would serve as a useful decision-support tool to identify highly impactful variables which most significantly influence uncertainty while supporting risk management and decision-making when planning or executing a response. Furthermore, such considerations would mitigate some of the fog of uncertainty associated with coordinating an initial response to a disaster. The authors address changing tempo and decision/action cycles ranging from strategic planning to tactical response in HADR centers, focusing on XLRM examination and implementation.
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