situational awareness

We have a natural disaster of historic proportions in the earthquake and the tsunami waves it generated in the Indian Ocean. It provides the opportunity for all of us to put our experiences in an appropriate perspective, to consider what we can do to help and aid the survivors, to pray for the victims, and to think about what might be done to ameliorate the impact of any future such disaster.

Wretchard quoted several readers of the Sydney Morning Herald who illustrated just how small minded some people can be. He also discussed the concepts of early warning systems and the matter of relative risks. His argument emphasises perhaps one of the more critical concepts.

The real challenge is not so much to create a new dedicated network of staring systems against known threats but to tie current sensors to systems which are capable of cognition. The most valuable survival asset is situational awareness — the ability to recognize threats you have never seen before and respond in an evolving manner — and that capability has not yet come to the world as a whole. … The realization of its necessity has come, at least in some small measure, to institutions which are scorned by some the sneering readers of the Sydney Morning Herald.[wretchard. The first drops of rain. Belmont Club. 27 December 2004]

Situational awareness rings a bell because that has been posited as the primary defence a military unit has in regards to such events as the recent mess hall bombing. The concept was also a part of the success of the 9/11 attack as the concept, while dreamed of as a fiction, was never really seriously considered as remotely possible – until after it happened.

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