My PhD-thesis will be defended on the 7th of September 2007

Title: DESIGNING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Abstract (draft)
This thesis contributes to our understanding of information technology use in emergency response work and how information technology could be designed to provide support in emergency response work. The work domain of operative emergency response has been studied by extensive ethnographic fieldwork at several different fire and rescue services in Sweden. Prototypes have been design and used by fire crews in field experiments in order to probe for potential future use of information technology and to study its consequences.

Using sensemaking, as an analytical lens, new aspects in emergency response work have been identified that influence the design of information technology support. The results from the extensive fieldwork and the field experiments presented in this thesis, suggest a new conceptualization of response work as patterns of practice where the collective efforts of making sense is fundamental for successful response work. The conceptualization makes visible the importance of carefully embedding the use of information technology in the situated time-critical response work.

Based on the patterns of practice, two general designs dimensions has been formed, extending our current knowledge of how information technology should be design for emergency response work. Current information technology has primarily been designed for a formal role or specific task. The results presented in this thesis suggest that the design of information technology should focus on the social interactions among the response actors involved in time-critical response work. In the collective efforts of making sense in emergency response, actors use a range of information technology artifacts, which produce a range of digital traces that say something about the ongoing work. Future information technology should be designed to make use of such traces of actions in order to improve the actors and actions visibility in the ongoing the response work.

By designing for social interactions and designing for traces of actions new improved features of information technology could be materialized that will make emergency responders better equipped for sensemaking activities in emergency response work.

Collection of papers
This thesis is a collection of five published peer-reviewed research papers where each paper contributes to the synthesized result presented in this first part of the thesis. The five papers included in this thesis are:

Landgren, J (2005). Supporting fire crew sensemaking enroute to incidents. International Journal of Emergency Management. Vol2, No3. Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
An earlier version of this paper was published in: Landgren, J (2004). Fire Crew Enroute Sensemaking, In the proceedings of International Workshop on Information systems for Crisis response and management, Brussels, Belgium. (Awarded as best PhD-student paper)

Landgren, J (2005). Shared use of information technology in emergency response work. In the proceedings of Second International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM) 18-20th April. Brussels, Belgium

Landgren, J. (2006). Making Action Visible in Time-Critical Work. In the proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2006), Montréal, Québec, Canada, ACM Press. (Nominated for best paper)

Landgren, J and Nulden, U (2007) A study of emergency response work: Patterns of mobile Phone Interaction. In the proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2007), San Jose, US.

Landgren, J (2007) Investigating The Tension Between Information Technology Use and Emergency Response Work. In the proceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS2007), St Gallen, Switzerland.

Jonas Landgren, 2007-06-27

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