The search for MH370 has exposed many weaknesses in disaster management. Governments, corporations and search agencies involved have found themselves bogged down by bureacracy, incompetence, legal restrictions and lack of cooperation that have stifled the management of the search and allowed the search trail to go cold.
It rapidly became clear that although individual organisations may have internal protocols for disaster management, when the disaster spans multiple jurisdictions, there is no established action plan and no prearranged chain of command to manage operations. In this case the Airline was Malaysian, the plane was american, the passengers were mostly chinese, it dissapeared on transition to Vietnamese airspace and the only working communication was via a UK satellite. It was (and is) a recipe for confusion, conflict and delays. Individual agencies possessed vital clues that could help locate the plane, but there was no system in place to bring them together. In the world of instantaneous communications this seems almost inconceivable, but it just demonstrates that the best tools are useless if the people holding them are not organised or motivated to share their data.
Lessons for managing search type operations (including moineral exploration) are:
1. A clear chain of command is required that unites all actors in the search.
2. Free and transparent flow of information between all actors must be maintained. Motivation to share is the best way to achieve this (see also Crowd Sourcing)
3. Structures and plans need to be in place before a major program gets started.