CHALLENGES FOR THE USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND STANDARDS IN INTERNATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT (Future Security conference, Sept. 2015)

In this paper we will reflect on the regulatory framework for communication exchange in case of international disasters. In particular, we will consider the potential challenges of the existing regulatory measures and standards for information exchange and disaster relief in the EU. First responders’ behaviour during the disaster relief is defined by standards and local measures regulating the domain of civil protection. Sovereign states adopt legislation that determine the set-ups of civil protection mechanisms, communication channels and other relevant measures related to disaster response. States also carry responsibility for adopting laws that would enable assistance from national or international resources. Often “international disasters” challenge domestic regulations with strong requirements on flexibility and ability to accommodate a number of local teams and supporting teams from either neighbouring administrations (e.g., counties, districts or municipalities) and/or international organisations (e.g., the EU or the United Nations) and/or Non-Governmental Organisations. However, even in the event of “international” disaster relief, which results in coordination of multi-level governance structures, local teams of first responders depend on their contingency and disaster management plans and on their ability to integrate and share information with the assisting teams.

Disaster response strongly depends on the efficiency of information exchange: rich and timely information can empower stakeholders and first responders with a good situational awareness and allow an optimal allocation of resources. In general, sharing and processing data, including personal data, during emergencies is subject to legal requirements. Often legal requirements set constraints for operational staff involved in relief actions. Yet, due to the need for prompt actions and the aim for providing help, responders in disaster relief may fall short on compliance with legal requirements.

Given such contrasting predicaments, it is timely to discuss whether there is a need for legislative and policy measures that would reduce uncertainties influencing the fieldwork of first responders. Legal framework affects the way how information exchange is enabled amongst various layers at different institutional stages, which may include sharing of operational pictures, updating availability of human and material resources and forwarding individual-related data. Therefore, in this paper we will set the scene for such a debate by considering the limitations of existing regulatory frameworks and standards. We will also consider how they could be integrated with new technologies and legal initiatives.

Publication date: 
2015
Contact Person, Main Author: 
Lina Jasmontaite
Coauthors: 
Uberto Delprato
Bettina Jager
Georg Neubauer
Type: 
Publication
Conference/Workshop: 
Future Security 2015