EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – July 23, 2003

The International Dimension of Emergency Management
Information, Communication, and Coordination

Eelco Dykstra, M.D.
Chair in International Emergency Management
Department of Health Policy and Management
University of Kuopio, Finland


Dennis Kouba
DMK Communications in association with
Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI), Inc.

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and
comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See
our homepage at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: On behalf of the EIIP Virtual Forum, Amy Sebring, my partner/associate, and I welcome you to our session! Our topic today is "The International Dimension of Emergency Management: Information, Communication, and Coordination." Now, it is my pleasure to introduce our speakers.

Eelco Dykstra, M.D., has twenty years of international emergency management experience in a wide variety of healthcare and non-healthcare settings. He currently serves as full professor (visiting) in International Emergency Management, attached to the Department of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Social Sciences, at the University of Kuopio in Finland. His world wide travel and project assignments in design, monitoring & evaluation (D,M&E) of emergency systems, programs and projects, has made him an acclaimed presenter and motivator, particularly for interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and inter-sector audiences. His other associations include International Adviser to the Home Islands Security Authority (HI-SA) in Tokyo, Japan, and inclusion on the emergency roster of the UNDP Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (BCPR), New York, USA.

Dennis Kouba is the former Director of Outreach and Development for the Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI). He is now managing PERI Virtual Symposium Programs and communications services through his own firm, DMK Communications, located in Portland, Maine. Dennis helped establish PERI operations and led the creation of its Web services and Symposium Programs. He also held positions with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Welcome to you both, we are very pleased to have you with us today. Dennis will start our formal discussion today. When he has finished his remarks, we will hear from Eelco. Dennis, I now turn the floor over to you to start us off, please.


Dennis Kouba: Thank you. I wanted to give everyone some quick background information about the Public Entity Risk Institute's (PERI) Virtual Symposium programs, and then turn the Forum over to Eelco.

PERI's Symposium Programs are presented as a public service, and are open at no charge to anyone interested in the topic that is being addressed. The Symposium series was begun in 1999, and PERI now conducts three to four of these programs per year. Toward an International System Model in Emergency Management is somewhat different than PERI's regular programs. We're first conducting a call for papers, which will be presented during the program. Usually, we commission papers rather than conduct an open call.

Also, we've had many enrollees from around the world in past programs. The September program, though, is PERI's first with an international perspective. Enrollment in the Symposium program is free; we ask people to enroll ahead of time so that we may e-mail the daily Issues and Ideas Papers to them each morning. Participants can then read the papers at their convenience, and later sign on to the discussion to make a comment.

After the program, the papers are posted on PERI's Web site, and remain there for reading and downloading. In fact, the papers from all programs conducted since PERI began the Virtual Symposium are still on the Web site at http://www.riskinstitute.org/symposium_papers.asp.

When the organization was formed, PERI was tasked with providing leadership in the areas of risk management, disaster management, and environmental liability management. Subsequently, PERI has supported numerous projects in the area of disaster management, many through its grant funding. The September Symposium is another step in PERI's support for improving the mitigation of and response to disasters.

For anyone interested in submitting a paper for the Symposium, complete information can be found on PERI's web site at http://www.riskinstitute.org, or I'll be happy to send information if you email me at [email protected] That's a quick overview of the PERI Symposium. I'll turn the program over now to Dr. Dykstra.

Eelco Dykstra: Hello to everyone! Thanks for being here today. As previously mentioned, we are here to talk about national and global concerns of integration, information sharing and interoperability. We are currently launching an exploratory survey of different approaches to information, communication and coordination in emergency management.

Emergency managers everywhere are increasingly confronted with an international dimension to many of their local and national concerns. This is as true for "routine" emergencies as it is for disasters, weapons of mass destruction, cyber/bio-terrorism, food security or humanitarian assistance. Despite the fact that the aftermath of 9/11 clearly contributed to an increased awareness and acceptance of that international dimension, it is still often lamented that few effective platforms exist for an interdisciplinary exchange of information, experiences and contacts in emergency management.

Why is that? Is it because these platforms do exist but may not be widely known or used? Is it perhaps because the people in the trenches, the policy makers and regulators, the planners and developers, and the suppliers, are not communicating as well as they could or should? Do we perhaps first have to overcome differences in semantics, system design, risk perception, cross-cultural sensitivity, lack of representation from all sectors, technical interoperability, and/or lack of funding? Could it be that we have not yet been successful in creating an all-encompassing and universally accepted model that can be used as a framework and common reference for the many different sectors, agencies and individuals involved in emergency management? Or, could it perhaps be all of the above?

Out of these questions follows the purpose of the ISMP-1 project (International Strategic Master Plan - 1st phase): To conduct an assessment of barriers and opportunities for developing a common framework or system model in emergency management, and recommend qualitative and quantitative parameters for improved connectivity and information sharing. From May to November in 2003, a consortium of about 25 entities from the public and private sectors in Europe, America, Africa and Asia, will lead this effort out of their shared concern regarding integration, information sharing and interoperability in emergency management.

The ISMP-1 project seeks to collect as much information and different views, opinions and contributions as possible by conducting surveys, structured interviews and web-based, interactive activities. The findings are to be condensed into a report, distributed as a white paper, to include recommendations for follow-on activities.

Coordination of the project rests with the University of Kuopio in Finland (http://www.uku.fi), with support by the Public Entity Risk Institute and the Emergency Infrastructure Information Partnership from the USA. Participants in the ISMP-1 Consortium / Core Group represent professional associations, government entities, non-governmental organizations, as well as private companies.

A concept paper, Towards an International System Model in Emergency Management: Information, Communication and Coordination in Emergency Management - Public and Private Sector Approaches in Different Countries and Systems, has been commissioned by PERI and is posted on the PERI Web site. Today's EIIP Virtual Forum was promoted broadly to help build interest in the concept paper and the PERI Symposium while stimulating discussion and input in the process.

The concept paper lists a number of challenges and frames the activities of different stakeholders and sectors, emphasizing the need for connectivity, seamless exchanges and widespread access to information. Let's examine a few of the challenges before us.

The point here is that these and many other entities invest tremendous amount of good will, talent, and resources. Unfortunately, many of them are not as well known as they ought to be: not within their own jurisdictions, but perhaps most importantly, also not to each other. The ISMP-1 project is therefore also about connectivity. Exploring obstacles and opportunities for information sharing means supporting the connections between different stakeholders and different "pockets" of activity. It also means helping to reduce the large functional distance between IT planners/developers, emergency management field operators, and the regulators and suppliers that deal with both.

What do we envision as the outcome of this effort? In the short term, obtaining verifiable data to assess who is doing what and exploring why and how they do it. Based on the publication of the results in a white paper, create a slate of follow on activities and prioritized action points. In the middle and longer term, this process could produce a common frame of reference in the form of an emergency management system model, one that is based on consensus and joint ownership. Right now, we do not have this, even though almost all agree that this makes sense. Ultimately, the model can then be used as a template or tool for the design, monitoring and evaluation, benchmarking and even probability forecasting of emergencies irrespective of type, size and location.

As a participant today, why should you in your role as a practitioner, a researcher, private sector representative, etc. care about this? First, because many crucial services like energy, food, health, transportation, communication, public safety, and finance, may be delivered locally, but have become so global, so interlinked, that single events may threaten continuity and therewith the personal well being of millions of people in many countries. Just imagine the quick spread of SARS around the world, leaving local emergency managers with little to no time to prepare. Or what do you think of the consequences of a breakdown in food security of an international fast food chain that has 43 million visitors each day?

Second, the global disaster management community is small, most of the problems we have are shared, but we are not always learning from each other: when not all of us are prepared, none of us is prepared.

Third, the scope of emergency management is widening: humanitarian assistance, overseas aid, development and technical assistance, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, information technology, etc.

Fourth, the world is looking at and talking about standards. In the US, competency and cooperation are in the spotlight since the events of 9/11.

Programs such as the NFPA 1600 Standard, the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) for States and Local programs, and IAEM's Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) program are more important than ever. The U.S. is not alone in this need for accountability. Others around the world are also very interested and are investigating this - there is widespread interest within the ISO to adopt international competency standards in emergency management. Australia has been developing competency standards for emergency management and is offering them to the international emergency management community as a model for discussion.

The above examples demonstrate only a few areas where we need to collaborate. There is much that needs to be discussed in the global arena. If we can come together and share our stories, successes and dreams for this business, we can all benefit from our collective experiences and expertise.

We would very much welcome your involvement in the ISMP-1 project. This can be done in any number of ways, such as: participating in the survey and/or interviews, submitting a paper on any of the challenges you feel needs to be addressed, reacting to the PERI Concept Paper, describing your experiences in the form of a case study, and/or expressing an interest to join the ISMP Consortium/Core Group. With that invitation, I will conclude my formal remarks.

Avagene Moore: Thank you very much, Eelco and Dennis. I trust our audience has questions related to the concept paper/your remarks and the upcoming symposium.

[Audience Questions & Answers]


Peter Jespersen: Eelco, with all the organizations involved, how do you expect to avoid duplication of effort and arrive at a consensus?

Eelco Dykstra: Good point. ISMP-1 and the PERI symposium act as navigators and facilitators. Many entities are already working in this field but are not necessarily in contact with each other.


Amy Sebring: Eelco, are you aware of the work that Dr. Blanchard with FEMA (and here today) has been doing in the area of higher education in emergency management? I would suggest this a key area to address in the international framework. For example, Canada has recently published its own survey and recommendations. ( See http://www.ocipep.gc.ca/research/scie_tech/emerMan/DisManCanUniv/2002_D013_e.asp)

Eelco Dykstra: Yes, we have been in contact on and off over the last year and are trying to bridge the different perspectives in higher education. Please do not forget that the discipline Emergency Management is largely restricted to the Anglo American world.


Lloyd Bokman: Eelco, I am involved with NFPA 1600 and recently we began working with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to coordinate our efforts with ISO's Technical Committee 223 on Civil Defence and Emergency Management. My question is, could you elaborate on the interest in ISO on standards in our field and how the ISO standards, that may be developed, would affect emergency management across the globe?

Eelco Dykstra: The ISO Technical Committee 215 has a work item called Framework for Emergency Data Sets. They are now looking within the ISO network on other TC's such as the one you mentioned. The purpose would be to establish a FRAMEWORK to encompass technical specifications as minimum standards or recommendations. I would be very interested to learn more about the work you are doing, so perhaps you could contact me off line?

Lloyd Bokman: Thank you, I will.


Peter Jespersen: Eelco, You mentioned several areas of interest to the project. How do you intend to prioritize the project areas, e.g. will conflicting terminology be a starting point?

Eelco Dykstra: Four main areas we have identified are stakeholder fragmentation, compatibility-interoperability problems, functional-technical disconnect, and lack of connectivity. Semantics and terminology are a major part of almost every challenge, and will definitely be included.


Avagene Moore: Dennis, if anyone is interested in submitting a paper for the Symposium, is there a requirement re: length of paper and format for submission? And deadline?

Dennis Kouba: Thanks Avagene. These questions are answered in the concept paper found on PERI's Web site, but briefly length can be from 3,000 to 6,000 words, preferred format is in Microsoft Word or text, deadline is August 31 (although we're flexible if we know something is being sent).


Hadi Husani: Eelco, you mentioned that EM is largely limited to the Anglo/American world, I've been working with robust but under-funded Emergency Management Organizations in Central Asia. My question is will this initiative be an appropriate venue for their lessons learned?

Eelco Dykstra: Thanks Hadi. Yes, we would love to have your experience be part of the research project and symposium. Maybe I should clarify my remark about the Anglo-American world. What I meant was the academic-educational discipline of emergency management, certainly not the practice of it.


Manfred Koethe: Eelco, is there any activity/attempt to include the international CERT organizations? While concentrating on computer emergencies, they can probably contribute with their logistic and operational experience.

Eelco Dykstra: Manfred, could you specify CERT?

Manfred Koethe: CERT stands for computer emergency response team. It is a collection of organizations world-wide. I have some connections to some national organizations. I think we can learn a lot from their organizations since they have been in operation (successfully) for many years now.

Eelco Dykstra: Within the ISMP-1 consortium, we have through ISO and the OMG group, access to considerable IT expertise, including yourself. The whole point is that we want to bring the field operators closer together with the IT planners and developers.


Burt Wallrich: Eelco, AIRS, the international Alliance of Information & Referral Systems, is working to develop protocols for storing and exchanging databases of health & human services that are relevant in emergency situations. See http://www.airs.org.

Eelco Dykstra: Wonderful, thank you so much for the referral, we will definitely contact them.


Hans Zimmermann: Eelco, let's not forget the newly created Disaster Response Network of the World Economic Forum, an interesting concept re. private sector partnerships.

Eelco Dykstra: Roger Hans, not forgotten, especially in view of the increasing trend away from relief to include development issues such as specified in the UN Millennium Campaign.


Amy Sebring: CERT reminds me of the U.S. ‘Community Emergency Response Teams’ effort, and that grassroots type training may be a key component of programs, not only in U.S. Eelco, can you comment on your experience in other countries with providing individual citizens with basic disaster/emergency response training?

Eelco Dykstra: Thank you, Amy. Very important to include community based interventions. Following the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Nairobi, USAID initiated a 36 million dollar 2-year program, which included CERT training (your definition) in local schools and other groups. Very successful.


Avagene Moore: Ladies and gentlemen, that's all we have time for today. We greatly appreciate your efforts and time on our behalf today, Eelco and Dennis. Thank you! We urge everyone to participate in the upcoming PERI Symposium - read Eelco's concept paper and get into the discussion. Please stand by a moment while we make some quick announcements:

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Again, the transcript will be posted later this afternoon and you will be able to access it from our home page.

We are pleased to announce three new EIIP Partners since our last session; they are:

National Notification Network http://www.3Nonline.com with Patrick Stuver, Vice President of Technology, serving as the POC to the EIIP;

Free World Training Company http://www.fwtc.biz ; Domenic Tesoriero is our POC; and

Emergency Network Builders, LLC http://www.emnetwork.us with our old friend, Burt Wallrich, President, as the EIIP POC. We are proud to announce our new Partners online.

If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the Partnership link on our home page.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. Our session is adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to our speakers for a fine job. The EIIP Virtual Forum is adjourned!