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Students and EM personnel used the tools in significantly different ways... were still figuring out how to balance the needs of the different users. When Disaster Strikes If ever interdisciplinary thinking is called for its when disaster strikes. Just imagine the coordination that must take place among personnel from fire and police departments power companies medical providers government agencies volunteer organizations and more. An interdisciplinary team of Rensselaer researchers led by William Wallace Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering David Mendonca Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Associate Professor Barbara Cutler in the Department of Computer Science is developing powerful new decision-making and data visualization tools to help with emergency management. They have created a prototype that features a map of a disaster area that can be projected onto a movie theater-sized screen with overlays detailing the location of hospitals power plants temporary shelters and other key landmarks. This system would allow emergency officials from different backgrounds and agencies to interact with the data collaboratively and simultaneously. When emergency management EM personnel came in to test out the system the importance of an interdisciplinary approach became even more evident. Students and EM personnel used the tools in significantly different ways said Professor Cutler who looks to bring the project to the next level. Its a multipurpose interface and were still figuring out how to balance the needs of the different users. breaking boundaries 21