Panel 3 – Overcoming challenges in inter-organisational disaster response

Conveners: Claudia Berchtold and Philip Sendrowski (Fraunhofer Institute for Technological Trend Analysis (INT))

Abstract: A broad range of technologies addressing inter-organisational collaboration challenges in disaster response has been developed in recent years, for example under European and national funding lines. However, inter-organisational collaboration remains one of the main challenges in crisis management, and it remains unclear what role technology can play in facilitating it. One of the reasons frequently mentioned is the gap between civil protection related research results and market uptake of technologies. Consequently, actual end-user capability gaps and technology needs have been put at the centre of attention and networks have been created to bring providers and customers together. These efforts have started to make a difference, but will take time to fully unlock their potential.

At the same time, inter-organisational collaboration poses significant organisational and process –related challenges, for example in terms of information sharing and decision-making. These aspects are on the one hand determined by the governance context and thus relate for example to domestic legislation and policy making, procedures and hierarchies. On the other hand, differences in (organisational) culture between but also within countries, including attitudes towards change and cooperation, are factors impacting inter-organisational collaboration.

Together both aspects create a nexus of non-technological (soft) barriers which need to be levelled in order to facilitate successful inter-organisational collaboration including the development of supporting technologies.

Against this background, the panel wants to elaborate on the interplay between the development of technologies and organisational challenges in responding to crisis. How, for example, can technologies help to overcome organisational challenges? What are technological limits? And how need organisational development and technological support to be aligned to contribute to successful crisis management?

Long Abstract:Increasing digitalisation and the development and availability of web-based services has also created new opportunities for crisis response. Geo-information systems (GIS) including open-mapping solutions, global positioning systems (GPS) and drones are just some examples that can be used in facilitating response operations. Since inter-organisational collaboration remains nevertheless one of the main challenges in disaster response, funding is allocated at national and European level for the development of supporting technological solutions. In order to overcome a mismatch between responder needs and solutions and to facilitate the market uptake of results, actual end-user capability gaps and technology needs have been put at the centre of attention and networks have been created to bring providers and customers together . These efforts have started to make a difference, but will take time to fully unlock their potential.

At the same time, inter-organisational collaboration poses significant organisational and process related challenges, for example in terms of information sharing and decision-making. These aspects are on the one hand side determined by the (external) governance context and thus relate for example to domestic legislation and policy making, procedures and hierarchies. In terms of the introduction of innovation, political mandates and internal actors (initiatives both from management level and from other staff) (Bloch, Bugge 2013) as well as new laws and regulations have been identified as drivers for innovation in the public sector (Blind et al. 2012). On the other hand side, organisation internal aspects such as culture, including attitudes towards change and cooperation are factors impacting inter-organisational collaboration. In this respect, innovation can be responses to specific problems or challenges but may as well be part of the organisational strategy (Bloch, Bugge 2013). Similarly, the application of innovations usually requires change, for example in terms of processes and organizational structures. Consequently, external and internal aspects create a nexus of non-technological (soft) barriers which need to be levelled in order to facilitate successful inter-organisational collaboration including the development and introduction of supporting technologies.

Against this background, the panel wants to elaborate on the interplay between the development of technologies and organisational challenges in responding to crisis from two perspectives. On the one hand side, it wants to discuss the opportunities and limits of technologies in overcoming collaboration challenges. On the other hand side, it wants to address the organisational determinants and changes required as a prerequisite for or effect of the introduction of innovative technologies in the disaster risk management context. Overall, the panel aims to derive insights on current shortfalls in effectively using technologies for collaborative response action.

References

Blind, Knut; Gauch, Stephan; Weber, Mike; Ziesing, Jan Henrik; Hecht, Stefanie (2012): Public Innovation. Innovationen und Innovationsmanagement in der öffentlichen Verwaltung in Deutschland und Europa.Berlin: Fraunhofer FOKUS.

Bloch, Carter; Bugge, Markus M. (2013): Public sector innovation—From theory to measurement. In Structural Change and Economic Dynamics 27, pp. 133–145. DOI: 10.1016/j.strueco.2013.06.008.