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Information Systems Development for Emerging Public Sector Cross-sector Collaborations: The Case of Swedish Emergency Response
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Information Systems. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Informationssystemutveckling för tvärsektoriella samverkansformer i offentlig sektor : En fallstudie av det svenska räddningssystemet (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Information systems (IS) seem prevalent in modern societies and have resulted in the rapid digitalisation of different societal sectors. One application domain of IS is emergency response, which is responsible for delivering essential services to save lives and minimise environmental damage in both small , frequent and large-scale emergencies. Specific IS applications are in turn used in emergency response to support such aspects as decision-making, communication, information sharing and the dispatching of resources. Public-sector cut-backs and a lack of professional resources have affected emergency response at the same time as natural disasters (e.g. forest fires, tsunamis, storms, terror attacks, and wars in the Middle East leading to mass migration) have intensified in recent decades. At the same time, frequent, small-scale accidents continue to occur on a regular basis, both in urban and sparsely populated areas. As a result, emergency response actors, first responders, are often placed under severe pressure. An emerging trend in response to these challenges, both in Sweden and internationally, is to create cross-sector forms of collaboration, by combining alternative resources from various sectors. Such collaborations are relatively new and involve heterogeneous stakeholders.

Therefore, the thesis objective is to explore IS-related opportunities, challenges and needs aimed at supporting heterogeneous actors in emerging cross-sector collaborations in emergency response in order to enable and facilitate future related IS development. To achieve this, a user-centred approach was applied. A baseline study was performed followed by three case studies on ‘co-location of actors’, ‘co-operative use of resources’ and ‘semi-professionals as first responders’ by performing interviews, focus groups, participant observation, Future Workshops, an exercise and an after-action review. The thesis is based on case study research and qualitative research methods. Sociotechnical systems theory, the sociotechnical ensemble view, and network governance were used as the analytical framework. As part of achieving the thesis objectives, experiences from applying user participation in the context of cross-sector collaboration are also presented as part of the results. A context-specific framework developed to systematise and explore various important aspects of cross-sector collaboration in emergency response is also described.

The results of this thesis indicate that the needs for IS in cross-sector collaborations vary from simple smartphone applications to manage alarms, positioning and the dispatching of new resources, to more sophisticated tools for sharing and viewing incident data. The results also indicate that these collaborations have the potential (e.g. resource redundancy, pooled competencies to increase total capacity) to improve Swedish emergency response if supported by adequate IS/IT support. The major challenges are organisational, economic and juridical and the most prominent are ambiguities in actors’ tasks and responsibilities, and how to prioritise between ordinary work and ‘new’ first-response tasks. They must be addressed to enable certain IS-functions, e.g. information sharing and positioning of resources The results also highlight several institutional factors (e.g. mutual interest between members, collective problem-solving, secrecy aspects) which are believed to play a key role in the success or failure of the collaborations and which must be adressed in the development of IS-support. The actors also have substantial basic needs for training (e.g. fire extinguishing, first aid) and emergency supplies (e.g. fire extinguishers, healthcare kits).

Applying user participation also faced challenges, the major one being the development of a future cross-sector collaboration in a context that does not yet exist, and involving stakeholders from resource-strained organisations in doing so. The stakeholders, and sometimes also the primary end-users, are partly unknown and tasks are undefined. As a response to these challenges, a combination of activities based on multiple design groups, scenario-based Future Workshops, focus groups, the context-specific framework, a practical exercise and an after-action-review was provided. The framework, which was used to support data collection and user participation, includes 15 dimensions each intended to represent important aspects of cross-sector collaboration.

The thesis major contributions are the identified opportunities, challenges and need as a ’sociotechnical ensemble’ and generated and from several studies, thus being comparable. The thesis more theoretical contributions is the combined application of the sociotechnical ensemble view and network governance where the studied collaboration forms are characterised as a hybrid form of networks and more traditional government mechanisms and where it is pointed out that network governance lacks explicit IS/IT aspects. In a wider perspective, the research fields of IS and political science may cross-fertilise each other when studying emerging cross-sector collaboration in the public sector. Identified user participation challenges relevant to the cross-sector collaboration context, suggestions on how they can be handled and the context-specific framework are contributions that can be used in practical user-centred IS development in similar contexts. 

Abstract [sv]

Informationssystem (IS) används idag i de flesta verksamheter inom respons och räddningsområdet t.ex. för beslutsstöd, kommunikation, informationsutbyte och resurspositionering. Fel i systemen kan bidra till misslyckad samverkan vid räddningsinsatser som i sin tur kan riskera människors liv och orsaka skador på miljö och infrastruktur vid såväl små, frekventa olyckor som storskaliga händelser, kriser och katastrofer. Budgetnedskärningar, brist på professionella resurser, naturkatastrofer (t.ex. skogsbränder, stormar) och terrorattacker är några exempel på utmaningar som har intensifierats under de senaste decennierna. Samtidigt fortsätter frekventa, småskaliga olyckor att inträffa, både i urbana och i glesbygdsområden. Därför är responsaktörerna ofta under hård press. Ett sätt att hantera utmaningarna, både i Sverige och internationellt, är tvärsektoriella samverkansformer som i sin tur involverar ofta heterogena samhällsresurser. Samarbetskontexten är förhållandevis ny och de involverade aktörerna och deras behov delvis okända.

Avhandlingen syftar därför till att utforska IS-relaterade möjligheter, utmaningar och behov för att stödja heterogena aktörer inom nya tvärsektoriella framväxande samverkansformer i svensk respons och räddning. För att utforska detta användes en användarcentrerad ansats. Därför genomfördes en bakgrundsstudie och tre fallstudier på ’samlokalisering av aktörer’, ’sambruk av resurser’ och ’semi-professionella som förstainsatspersoner’ genom att utföra intervjuer, fokusgrupper, deltagande observation, Future Workshops, och en övning med följande After-Action-Review. Avhandlingen bygger därmed på fallstudieforskning och kvalitativa forskningsmetoder. ’Socioteknisk systemteori’, begreppet ’socioteknisk ensemble’ och ’network governance’ teori används som forskningens analytiska ramverk. Som ett led i att uppfylla syftet presenteras dessutom erfarenheter från användarmedverkan i kontexten tvärsektoriell samverkan som ett delresultat samt ett kontext-specifikt ramverk utvecklat för att systematisera och utforska olika viktiga aspekter av tvärsektoriell samverkan i respons- och räddningsverksamhet.

Avhandlingens resultat visar att behoven av IS i tvärsektoriella samverkansformer varierar från enkla smartphoneapplikationer för larmhantering, positionering och utryckning av nya resurser, till mer sofistikerade verktyg för informationsdelning och gemensamma lägesbilder. Resultaten pekar också mot att med rätt IS stöd har samverkansformerna potential (t.ex. i form av resursredundans, gemensam pool för ökad kapacitet) för att förbättra svensk räddningsverksamhet. De stora utmaningarna är organisatoriska, ekonomiska och juridiska. De mest framträdande är otydligheter i aktörernas uppgifter, roll och ansvar, och hur man prioriterar mellan sitt befintliga arbete och "nya" förstainsatser. Utmaningarna måste lösas för att möjliggöra IS-funktioner, till exempel vid informationsdelning och resurspositionering. Resultaten belyser också explicit flera institutionella faktorer (t.ex. gemensamt intresse och mål, kollektiv problemlösning, sekretesshantering) som tros ha en nyckelroll i samverkansformernas realisering och som måste hanteras i utveckling av relaterat IS-stöd. Aktörerna har också grundläggande behov av träning (t.ex. brandsläckning, första hjälpen) och utrusning (t.ex. brandsläckare, sjukvårdskit).

Tillämpningen av användarmedverkan visade också på utmaningar, varav den främsta var att utveckla framtida tvärsektoriell samverkan i ett sammanhang som ännu inte existerar och att involvera intressenter från organisationer med ansträngda resurser för att genomföra detta. Intressenterna, ibland även de primära slutanvändarna, är delvis okända och uppgifterna är odefinierade. Som ett sätt att hantera utmaningarna genomfördes en kombination av aktiviteter som baserades på multipla designgrupper, scenariobaserade Future Workshops, fokusgrupper, ett kontextspecifikt ramverk, en övning och en After-Action-Review samt det kontext-specifika ramverket. Ramverket som användes för att stödja datainsamling och användarmedverkan innehåller 15 dimensioner som är tänkta att representera viktiga aspekter av tvärsektoriella samverkansformer.

Avhandlingens främsta bidrag är de identifierade möjligheterna, utmaningarna och behoven som en ’social ensemble’ och som genererade och jämförbara ur flera studier. Avhandlingens mer teoretiska bidrag är den kombinerade tillämpningen av ’sociotechnical ensemble’ och ’network governance’ där de studerade samverkansformerna lyfts fram som en blandform av nätverk och mer traditionella styrmekanismer och där det påpekas att network governance saknar explicita IS/IT delar. I ett större sammanhang kan forskningsfälten IS och statsvetenskap kan komplettera varandra vid studier av framväxande tvärsektoriell samverkan i offentlig sektor. Relevanta utmaningar vid användarmedverkan i kontexten, förslag på hur de kan hanteras och det kontext-specifika ramverket är bidrag som kan används i praktisk användarcentrerad IS-utveckling i liknande sammanhang.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2018.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 750
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-151661DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-151661ISBN: 9789176852316 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-151661DiVA, id: diva2:1251929
Public defence
2018-10-26, ACAS A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-09-28 Created: 2018-09-28 Last updated: 2018-10-05Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. A Framework for “New Actors” in Emergency Response Systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Framework for “New Actors” in Emergency Response Systems
2013 (English)In: ISCRAM2013. Conference Proceedings, Book of Papers, 10th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management / [ed] T. Comes, F. Fiedrich , S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T. Müller, 2013, p. 741-746Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Using actors from different societal sectors can improve the response operation quality in emergency management. The different roles, tasks and responsibilities these actors have in response operations and the legal frameworks they work within influence their needs for proper information system support. There is thus a substantial need to study and systemize the concept of “new actors” before providing them with technical solutions. In this study, a framework is constructed showing 14 dimensions of new actors that need to be considered when new actors are studied in more detail.

Keywords
Emergency response system, new actor, framework, first responder.
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-95995 (URN)9783923704804 (ISBN)
Conference
10th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2013), 12-15 May 2013, Baden-Baden, Germany
Available from: 2013-08-12 Created: 2013-08-12 Last updated: 2018-09-28Bibliographically approved
2. Emerging communities of collaboration: co-location in emergency response systems in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Emerging communities of collaboration: co-location in emergency response systems in Sweden
2014 (English)In: ISCRAM2014 Academic Papers 11th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management / [ed] S.R. Hiltz, M.S. Pfaff, L. Plotnick, and P.C. Shih, Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management , 2014, p. 546-555Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Co-location as a form of network governance is a way of organizing response teams when responding to an emergency situation. At the ‘Safety house’ in the province of Jämtland in Sweden main emergency response actors and supporting actors work together in a shared physical place in order to facilitate the process of cooperation and joint decision making. In order to identify the strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, needs and information system role, we explored this case by looking at how the involved actors experience this new working context. We applied an analytical framework developed specifically for new forms of emergency response. It was found that co-location of actors increases the efficiency in using professional response resources and shortens the emergency response time. Information systems can have a significant role in improving the collaboration between actors at the ‘Safety house’. However secrecy issues, the problem of control and politics and the evaluation of the performance of actors are major challenges which face further development of the co-location concept.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, 2014
Keywords
Emergency, Crisis Management, Network governance
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-109496 (URN)9780692211946 (ISBN)
Conference
11th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2014), University Park, Pennsylvania, USA, 18 May 2014
Available from: 2014-08-20 Created: 2014-08-20 Last updated: 2018-09-28Bibliographically approved
3. Actor-centred emergency response systems: a framework for needs analysis and information systems development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Actor-centred emergency response systems: a framework for needs analysis and information systems development
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Emergency Management, ISSN 1471-4825, E-ISSN 1741-5071, Vol. 12, no 4, p. 403-434Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

 A new trend in emergency response systems (ERS) is to create new forms of collaboration, for example, by involving new resources in response operations, in order to compensate for the limited number of professional resources. However, the fact that the new resources may come from different organisational contexts and social sectors creates new challenges which directly affect information systems development for these resources. This study presents a framework including 15 dimensions to analyse the new forms of collaboration. Socio-technical system theory and participatory design approaches are applied to make the framework applicable in the information systems field. The framework might also address general problems such as the lack of formalisation and difficulties in identifying relevant stakeholders in participatory design. A comparison with international research showed a potential to adapt the framework to ERSs in other countries or even to other parts of the public sector that are undergoing similar changes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
InderScience Publishers, 2016
Keywords
ERSs; emergency response systems; new actors; new collaborations; cross-sector collaboration; information systems; socio-technical systems; STS; participatory design; needs analysis; emergency management
National Category
Information Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-132400 (URN)10.1504/IJEM.2016.10000709 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-11-08 Created: 2016-11-08 Last updated: 2018-09-28
4. User Participation in Information Systems Development for Emerging Public Sector Initiatives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>User Participation in Information Systems Development for Emerging Public Sector Initiatives
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study is a-posteriori analysis of information systems (IS) development in a cross-sector collaboration case to identify and address user participation challenges in emerging public sector initiatives. The major challenges in the studied case was to develop IS for future cross-sector collaboration in a setting that does not yet exist, i.e. where the tasks, stakeholders and end-users are undefined. To address identified challenges, we suggest a combination of activities based on multiple design groups, scenario-based Future Workshops, focus groups, context-specific frameworks, and practical exercises with after-action-review. We argue that while similar challenges have been discussed in relation to large-scale projects and, sometimes, cross-sector collaboration, IS development for emerging public sector initiatives pose specific issues that need to be addressed.

Keywords
User participation, future service design, cross-sector collaboration
National Category
Public Administration Studies Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-150956 (URN)
Conference
27th International Conference on Information Systems Development (ISD2018), August 22-24, Lund, Sweden
Available from: 2018-09-06 Created: 2018-09-06 Last updated: 2018-09-28Bibliographically approved
5. Semi-professionals: emergency response as an additional task in current occupations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Semi-professionals: emergency response as an additional task in current occupations
2018 (English)In: International Journal of Emergency Services, ISSN 2047-0894, E-ISSN 2047-0908Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Purpose The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to identify occupational groups who can act as semi-professional first responders, in order to shorten the response times to frequent emergencies, and second, to identify related opportunities, challenges and needs of training, emergency supplies and information technology (IT) support. Design/methodology/approach A case study approach was taken, combining future workshops, focus groups and an exercise. Network governance was used as an analytical lens. Findings The identified potential groups are security guards, home care personnel, fire services day personnel and facility service personnel. The results show that semi-professionals have a large potential to complement professional resources by carrying out first response or supportive actions vital to the emergency, partly by using already existing cars and equipment. The identified needs include additional basic equipment such as fire extinguishers and first-aid kits, training in basic firefighting, first aid and risk assessment, as well as mobile phone application-based IT support to manage alarms. The major challenges are organisational, economic and juridical, including ambiguities in responsibilities and related insurances. The analysis recognises the new collaboration as a hybrid form of hierarchical government and network governance. Social implications The study suggests that using semi-professional resources can be one of many innovative solutions to recent public sector challenges that have put a huge strain on professional emergency response organisations. Originality/value The study provides a novel view of using semi-professional resources in emergency response, based on the joint perspectives of various occupational groups, and the fire services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2018
Keywords
Network governance, Cross-sector collaboration with fire services, Semi-professionals
National Category
Communication Studies Public Administration Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-150834 (URN)10.1108/IJES-11-2017-0059 (DOI)
Available from: 2018-09-03 Created: 2018-09-03 Last updated: 2018-09-28Bibliographically approved

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