Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) operations are normally the responsibility of the local police force, a delegation of duties which is consistent across numerous Countries. However, invariably management of the search operation becomes the responsibility of highly trained local volunteers.
Being that these groups have extensive training, as well as knowledge of the local area, combined with the fact that they are very often self-sufficient and do not require payment for their services, they are an integral part of Search and Rescue operations in numerous countries around the world.
Gone are the days when a person must be absent for a predetermined period of time before a search would be initiated. The emphasis is now on providing a quick and well orchestrated response. Being that a search operation is ultimately a matter of managing and interpreting various types of spatial information from a variety of sources, the use of GIS in Search Management is an obvious means of expediting this process, and increasing the likelihood that the search will end with favourable results.
As demographics and lifestyles change, so do the characteristics of the persons reported as �lost�. Alzheimer�s victims, despondent individuals, and young children make up the majority of search subjects. In order to effectively conduct a search for these various categories of subjects, one must first understand how these individuals perceive there geographic surroundings, cognitively process spatial stimuli, and the methodologies they might employ to rectify their current situation.
In order to ensure GIS technology can be effectively utilized in this type of operation, one must first understand all the spatial factors that come into play ranging from Search Management principles/practices, to the patterns exhibited in a lost person�s behaviour. Following an assessment of how GIS can best represent these spatial factors, one must determine to what extent spatial technologies are currently being utilized and develop a strategy to bridge the remaining gaps.