From this first day of presentations at ISCRAM2014, I would like to touch upon a few insights.
Associate professor Leysia Palen at Univ of Colorado, underlined in an excellent keynote speech that “ to be human is to seek situational awareness”. She continued and showed how situation awareness is not just an activity for command center settings or situation rooms, but also for operative field units, work shift collaboration groups and for citizens that has been affected by the mass emergency. For me, this means that there are important research to be conducted where we take a closer look of how people in various settings seek situational awareness. By doing this, we could identify common patterns and insights across settings in order to eventually form general insights. Leysia also presented numerous other insights in her brilliant talk on Crisis Informatics.
Kees Boersma and Jeroen Wolbers from Univ of Amsterdam presented a short paper on research (Title: Beyond the Myth of Control: toward network switching in disaster management) that they soon (or actually already) have started. They presented arguments why we must stop to use a ‘control’-model when we organize societal response systems. Control does not work and will in many cases only result in inadequate and sometimes unfair actions. The idea that governmental authorities should enforce control cause more problems than it solves since the control model in practice does not include the idea that citizens and communities are able to respond and self-organize in times of mass emergencies and societal disruption. Instead, Kees and Jeroen suggests that we must find new mechanisms that provide connections between governmental authorities and emergent groups. From their perspective, I recall the events in Husby in Sweden where the Police and governmental authorities failed to impose the control model on the societal unrest and it was not until the local community took a more visible role that the violent protests were fading out.
So the general insights from this first day is that we should start the work to find new ways of providing better information sharing between authorities and increased connection and information sharing between authorities and emergent citizen groups. A key challenge here will obviously be to convince authorities that less control does not mean less safety on the streets. Less control only means that authorities must start to learn how to collaborative in ways they by tradition have little experience in.