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Managing Information in Disaster Management: A Transformation from "Command and Control" to "Repertoires of Collaboration"

18 Nov 2011

Presenting to a delegation from The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), Associate Professor Deborah Bunker, reiterated the importance of supplementing current Disaster Management procedures with the use of information systems and ICT. Associate Professor Bunker shared findings from the major research project she is leading, in disaster management. The project was aimed at identifying and enhancing information systems factors that impact the collaboration of emergency services agencies.

The presentation underlined the necessity to better understand the similarities and differences in how information is generated and used within emergent scenarios involving diverse stakeholders. The discussion centred around the need for Emergency Services Agencies (ESA) to consider supplementing their traditional "command and control" approaches to the use of information systems and ICT in disaster management, with varying "repertoires of collaboration" that include all stakeholders (including citizens) affected by the crisis or disaster.

Discussion with the delegates centred on approaches to collaborative management and integration of information and processes with organizations, individuals, systems and ICT infrastructure, before, during and after a disaster.

This was of particular relevance to the delegates from CASIC who have been involved in the management of major setbacks as a result of a series of natural disasters in the Chinese mainland this year including floods, earthquakes and drought.

CASIC is a state-owned hi-tech enterprise under direct administration of the Chinese central government and an integral stakeholder of the Chinese science and technology industry. Under its purview are up to seven academies, two scientific research and development bases, six public listed companies, and over 620 other companies and institutes nationwide.

Deborah Bunker is an Associate Professor in the Business Information Systems discipline at University of Sydney. She is also President, Australasian Association of IS and Vice Chair, International Federation of Information Processing Working Group 8.6 on Innovation, Diffusion, Transfer and Implementation of IS.