Situation Assessment Towards a Common Operating Picture

What is situation assessment?


“providing decision makers with decision relevant information regarding the nature and extent of the hazard, cascading effects and the status of the response.”

There is initial need to find out what has happened and what progress has been made:

  1. What is going on?

  2. What is the issue?

  3. What are the impacts?

As you develop integrated (from multiple sources / agencies) and comprehensive (complete-not just through your agency lens) situatio


nal assessment, you will want to ensure you process that information:

  • Collected from all sources that may offer a multitude of perspectives;

  • Collated so that you can develop a common operating picture;

  • Evaluated to ensure a complete picture and not missing a perspective; and

  • Disseminated so that all agencies are working with a common operating picture.

Situational assessment is identifying the informational needs, gathering information and turning information into intelligence, as well as preparing, then sharing / displaying intelligence.


This analogy emphasizes the point: regardless of the scale of the incident, you will require the same types of resources and competencies, the only difference between incidents is the level at which they are applied.

Characteristics of complex incidents



  • Prolonged duration

  • Exceeds capability to respond and requires special knowledge or training

  • Necessitates formal planning with expanded management structure

  • Poses significant risk to responders or jurisdictions

  • Requires a significant amount or exceeds available resources

  • Potential to cause loss of life or widespread damage

  • Heightened media/public/political attention or interest

  • Involves multiple organizations and/or jurisdictions

  • Business continuity threatened

  • Involvement/coordination of multiple sites

CDRO can assist you with all aspects of gathering situational assessment, we have the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively function to assist you Commanders and Situation Unit across a spectrum of all hazards incident levels. Visit our Services Page to find out more


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