An activity theory analysis of search and rescue collective sensemaking and planning practices

Sultan A. Alharthi, Nicolas James LaLone, Hitesh Nidhi Sharma, Phoebe O. Toups Dugas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Search and rescue (SAR), a disaster response activity performed to locate and save victims, primarily involves collective sensemak-ing and planning. SAR responders learn to search and navigate the environment, process information about buildings, and collab-oratively plan with maps. We synthesize data from ?ve sources, including ?eld observations and interviews, to understand the infor-mational components of SAR and how information is recorded and communicated. We apply activity theory, uncovering unforeseen factors that are relevant to the design of collaboration systems and training solutions. Through our analysis, we derive design implica-tions to support collaborative information technology and training systems: mixing physical and digital mapping; mixing individual and collective mapping; building for di?erent levels and sources of information; and building for di?erent rules, roles, and activities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationMaking Waves, Combining Strengths
EditorsPernille Bjørn, Steven Drucker
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380966
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2021 - Online, Yokohama, Japan
Duration: 8 May 202113 May 2021
Conference number: 39th (Proceedings) (Proceedings)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2021
Abbreviated titleCHI 2021
Internet address


  • Activity theory
  • Maps
  • Planning
  • Practice
  • Search and rescue
  • Sensemaking
  • Training

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