Volunteers from grassroots organizations are often the first to respond in a local emergency. These first responders, however, often do not have adequate training and practice with quick-response tactics and mobile two-way device usage.
Elizabeth Avery Gomez, of Whippany, who will graduate on Thursday from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) with a doctorate in information systems, has devoted much of her research to changing this situation. Gomez is researching better ways to help volunteers communicate more efficiently and effectively throughout a crisis. Her solution is simple. Teach everyone text-messaging as a lowest-common denominator, she said. This research recently caught the attention of the university community when it was displayed during a campus-wide research day this past spring.
Gomez, who is 44 and a single mother of four, will speak about her research and other aspects of graduate life during NJIT’s graduation ceremony Thursday, May 17, 2007, in Continental Airlines Arena. Her talk—which is an honor—will focus on technology and crisis response readiness, dovetailing with the ceremony’s keynote speaker Anthony Coscia, chair of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
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This summer, Gomez, an AGEP fellow, will be a summer intern at the Port Authority’s Office of Emergency Management. “I look forward to continuing my work that focuses on training to increase communication readiness for emergency responders,” she added. “I can’t imagine a more exciting place to be.”
“The need exists for the training and practice of two-way mobile device communication protocols to assist with interoperable communication and to increase individual e-readiness for crisis response,” Gomez said.
The short message service used for text-messaging is one viable alternative, she believes. “Text messaging is highly reliable in times of crisis. It is also a portable way to communicate and extends to both mobile and stationary computer technologies.
Gomez’s research at NJIT developed a crisis scenario delivered through a web-based training application. The crisis scenario was to prompt participants for a written communication response.
While at NJIT, Gomez has also been president of the Society for Technical Communications Student Chapter and a member of the Alpha Epsilon Lambda Honor Society. She has presented her research in more than 20 peer-reviewed conference proceedings. She received her bachelor’s degree from Quinnipiac College and her master’s degree from NJIT. “I began graduate school looking for a way to help underserved populations,” she said. “Graduating with this degree make me feel that I have achieved in part what I set out to accomplish.”