EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — March 24, 2010

Information Systems for Crisis Response
ISCRAM's Research Mission

Susanne Jul, Ph.D.
Vice Chair and Founding Board Member

Mark P. Haselkorn, Ph.D.
ISCRAM 2010 Conference Chair

International Association for the Study of Information Systems
for Crisis Response and Management

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/ISCRAM/iscram100324.pdf for ease of printing.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome to EMforum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as Moderator today. We are very glad you could join us.

Over the years of the Forum, we have devoted a number of programs to research and others to technology. Today we get to combine both in our topic "Information Systems for Crisis Response: ISCRAM's Research Mission." ISCRAM stands for the International Association for the Study of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management.

And as the name indicates, this is an international effort, but this year presents a rare opportunity to participate in an ISCRAM event within the United States. As we shall learn, the 7th annual conference, ISCRAM 2010, will be held in Seattle this year during May.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guests:

[Slide 1]

Dr. Susanne Jul is the current Vice Chair and a founding Board Member of ISCRAM. With a Ph.D. in computer science/human-computer interaction, her work is often entwined with design, adoption and use of information technology.

Susanne is also an active volunteer with American Red Cross Disaster Services with whom she has deployed on numerous occasions including Hurricane Katrina. In addition, she is President of Amaryllis Consulting.

Dr. Mark Haselkorn is Chair of the ISCRAM Conference Committee. He also serves as Director of the Pacific Rim Visualization and Analytics Center, a DHS-funded regional center of excellence focused on enhancing distributed collaborative decision making.

Mark was founding chair of the Department of Technical Communication in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington and also founded and directs UW's Interdisciplinary Program in Humanitarian Relief, a cross-campus program of research and education that works closely with the international humanitarian sector.

Welcome to you both, and thank you very much for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to Susanne to start us off please.


Susanne Jul: Good morning, or good afternoon, wherever you are. As Amy said, I am here to talk about ISCRAM.

[Slide 2]

What I’d like to talk about first is, what is ISCRAM, and a little bit about why we think an entity like ISCRAM is necessary. Then, I’ll talk a little bit about the activities we’re undertaking and how we’re trying to do what we’re trying to do, in particular ISCRAM 2010. For details about the 2010 Conference, I will turn that over to Mark Haselkorn.

I’m not going to talk about ISCRAM and you very much, because that’s where we’d like to hear what ISCRAM might be able to do for you.

[Slide 3]

ISCRAM is the International Association for the Study of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management—quite a mouthful when you get used to saying it. As the name applies, there are 3 parts to the name.

The important parts—we are a study, for the study and association for the study, which means we are a community of researchers and others who are interested in practice, technologies, how to do things, and how they work, not just in how actually to do, not in going out and doing it (although a lot of us do that), but in understanding how it all works. What we’re interested in understanding is the area of information systems.

We use the term "information systems" rather than "information technologies" or "information and communication technologies" because we want to cover a broad spectrum, not just the actual technology of the hardware and software itself, but the designed deployment, the socio-technical design (how does it work for people), what is the effect on organizations, how does the public interact, how does the whole world work around that area.

Finally, the domain we’re interested in is crisis response and management. That’s another big term. In the U.S., the term is more likely to be "disaster management". We are interested in all phases, the 5 traditional phases of disaster management—prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. We use a very broad definition of "crisis". We tend towards the sociologists’ definition, which is the breakdown of routine.

At this point, we’re looking at a lot of different kinds of crises and open to any areas. The key point is that it needs to be involved with crisis and it needs to have a focus on some form of information systems.

[Slide 4]

A little bit of background—the first ISCRAM workshop was held in 2004 in Brussels. It had 80 participants. That quickly grew over the next couple of years into an annual conference and some other activities. By 2008, it was pretty clear that this couldn’t be a loose ad hoc community of people. It needed to be an association that can support activities and provide a home for this community.

By 2009, we formed a non-profit association. We are filed as a Belgian non-profit, with a signature of the Belgian King on our charter. We have 8 elected board members from China, the U.S., Belgium, England, Sweden—so we are truly international. Of course, between now and 2010 our 3 big activities are the 7th ISCRAM Annual Conference that Mark is going to talk about.

We are also hosting our 4th Annual ISCRAM China Conference, and our 4th Summer School. I’ll explain those in a little bit.

[Slide 5]

The goals of the association are twofold. First, we want to promote research, development, knowledge exchange, and deployment of information systems in this area. The second one is to promote and facilitate cooperation between all parties engaged in this domain. We are not limiting our activities to researchers. We want to engage with practitioners, professionals, any kind of experts, policy makers, members of the public—anyone who gets involved in this.

Our fundamental drive is to increase the effectiveness of disaster management, and of course, to reduce crisis-induced suffering.

[Slide 6]

When I take those two goals, and I can reduce them to a simplified version, is our first primary goal that we’re working on right now is to provide a home for ISCRAM researchers. Like any other professional community, we need a peer community for researchers; that means a place to publish, a place to exchange knowledge and information, or just meet and talk.

The second goal is to foster knowledge exchange between research and practice. The first one is fairly self-evident—any professional community needs a home. But to understand the second one, I want to talk a little bit about the nature of research.

[Slide 7]

The second one is necessary because we want to be sure that our work is critical and relevant. In this kind of research, the nature of research—we have to understand what research is. Research is, in the words of my dissertation advisor, basically a quest to add to the sum total of human knowledge. That’s a pretty big challenge, if you think about it.

You have to be very systematic and rigorous. When you come up with something new, you have to prove that it is new. You have to prove that it is a new piece of knowledge and that it is a piece of knowledge. If we look at lessons learned, normally, for a lot of people, I take what lessons I learned, and I try to publish them, I try to spread them out so other people can learn from them as well.

From a research perspective, I have to prove that no one else has learned that lesson before. I have to prove that it is, in fact, a good lesson. If I take that lesson and turn it into best practices, I now have to prove that as a best practice, it will have the desired effect every time I use it. For example, Lori Peek’s work with Children in Disaster, her hypothesis and her findings are that if you focus on children in response, the recovery for the community will, in general, be faster.

As a piece of research, she now has to demonstrate that is, in fact, the case in the communities she’s looked at and the incidents she has looked at, and if it’s going to be carried forward as a piece of research that is a piece of advice, she has to show under what circumstances will focusing on children in a response always speed the recovery, or have a high tendency to speed recovery in any effected community.

[Slide 8]

When we talk about research, we can talk 3 different types of research. There is first, basic research, which is the one most people think of, which is knowledge for the sake of knowledge. This is the kind of stuff that Newton did. Newton was curious about why things fall, and how certain physical objects move. In the course of exploring that curiosity, and trying to understand things, he came up with the concept of gravity and other Newtonian physics—a model. That was just because he didn’t understand it. He developed new knowledge.

The second type of research we commonly see is applied research. This is where we take some known understanding and figure out how to make use of it. If we look at Newtonian physics and gravity, and we start wondering what we can do with that, and where we can use it, we come up with orbiting planets, we can come up with satellites, and we get into geo-stationary orbits, and we all have satellite communications.

The third type of research is what we call use-inspired basic research. This is the kind of work where you start with a problem. I have a very real problem I want to solve, and in order to solve that, I have to develop some kind of new knowledge. The classic example of that is Louis Pasteur, who had a basic problem that he was trying to help brewers to develop a way to prevent beer from spoiling.

In the course of understanding how to prevent beer from spoiling, he basically invented microbiology and came up with germ theory, and theories that are now critical to solving disease problems.

This third category of research is what ISCRAM research is. We are looking at crisis response and management trying to help real problems in the real world. We may have to develop new knowledge in order to do that. That means we not only have to have a home for ourselves, but that second goal of engaging with practice and engaging with people who are not researchers is absolutely critical.

[Slide 9]

The problem with actually carrying it out is that researchers are like vacuum cleaners. You want the benefit of their work, but they get in your way when you’re trying to do yours. You don’t really want to have them around. That’s why we felt that having an association or an organization that can help facilitate, make it easier to researchers to connect with people in the field and find ways of interacting, such as conferences and workshops, and help facilitate techniques for communicating between research and practice.

[Slide 10]

In short, we have a vision of a world where there is a continual conversation between research and practice in the area of information systems for crisis response and management, where we get knowledge from the field and from practitioners and policy makers about complex problems that need to be solved. We help push out proven solutions. We engage with practice to understand where those solutions work and what won’t work, and you get back new complex problems.

The way I like to think of it, particularly when I talk to young PhD students who have an idea of how crisis and disaster management should work, is that it just doesn’t work that way. If you imagine how disaster works, for any of you that have been out there, you know it just doesn’t work the way you picture it. We need a world where we are continually engaging between research and practice so that we can make sure that we’re doing the right research and that it is relevant to what is needed.

[Slide 11]

The activities, the way we are doing it—the primary activities are the conferences. Conferences are ways for researchers to exchange knowledge and engage with each other. It is also an opportunity to reach out to others, to practitioners, and to hear from people and get them involved. We have had an Annual ISCRAM Conference every year since 2004. We have had an Annual ISCRAM China Conference, hosted in Harbin, China, since 2006.

We are also very focused as an association, very committed, to developing our young researchers, and to making sure that they understand the value of practice and getting out into the field. We have an annual summer school that is a 10-day event in the Netherlands, where we bring in 10 to 15 PhD students, and we bring in speakers. The speakers then either stay on-site or stay as long as they can for the event.

The focus for the students is not on how to do research, but how disaster management works and how various organizations in the world work. It’s really trying to get them exposure to the reality of the practice of disaster management. We have something called ISCRAM Live, which you’ll find on our website (ISCRAM.org/live).

That’s an interactive service that when we have an event, we allow people to tag things on all the social networking channels. People can tag on Twitter, on Flickr, on Facebook, they can tag their entries and the ISCRAM Live site will pick it up, and then it’s a collection take—you can see what everyone is talking about in that event.

That has been extremely successful in conferences and summer school, as well, where we get conversations over Twitter and Facebook that people can follow and interact with during the event. We also, in those events, on ISCRAM Live, actually stream the talks from summer school and the conferences so that they can be watched in real-time broadcasts over the web.

We had in the past summer school more people, we had about 125 people watching one particular lecture, 125 people around the world, and adding questions on the ISCRAM channel. That’s something we’re very excited about.

Of course, developing partnerships with other organizations is critical. Our organization is primarily focused around researchers, although we have many members who are practitioners and policy makers. Our partnerships are critical to our strategy. We signed a memorandum partnership with IAEM Europe last year, and are looking to sign more this year with IAEM and other professional organizations.

We had some proposed activities that we’d certainly like your feedback engagement with. One concept is called "city labs". The fundamental concept is the challenge to take a city or specific geographic location and engage in an ongoing series of meetings or conversations with everyone in that area with an interest in crisis management.

One of the first ones we’re trying to get rolling is Gothenburg, Sweden, where we have some very active researchers who are very engaged with the local emergency services, so that there is an ongoing conversation where they can help each other solve each other’s problems because of the different perspectives.

Another concept we would like to work with is regional workshops. We do have researchers who travel who have good knowledge. We are talking about trying to do workshops in local communities, particularly in developing countries, where we can have a couple of researchers come and do a couple of days of seminars on best practices and what actually works.

Another thing that is very important to us that we do need the community for is—what are the driving questions in this area? What are the big research questions that need to be answered? For Pasteur, it was how to prevent beer from spoiling. We don’t know what they are, and that’s something we have to have from practitioners.

Finally, of course, we are open to suggestions. Everything we do is a conversation. From that, I would like to go into some detail on ISCRAM 2010 and turn things over to Mark.

[Slide 12]

Mark Haselkorn: Hi, this is Mark Haselkorn. I appreciate this chance to talk. I feel a little guilty starting off with pictures of a beautiful city in peace and tranquility when our topic is situations where there is chaos, but I guess when you’re inviting people to a conference, that is what you do. In Seattle, in May, we’ve got a wonderful venue. It’s walkable to the world famous Pike Market and the beautiful skyline, right downtown. I apologize for the pictures, but I think that’s my job.

This year, just as Susanne said, ISCRAM has gone to the next level here in 2009 and incorporated, I think, along with that we’ve taken this conference and this will be the one people look back at and say that this is when we took the conference to another level, as well. In the past, the conference has been a little more distributed—multiple hotels.

We don’t want to lose the community and informality, as you see, but we’ve moved into a really central location and a hotel that will accommodate the entire operation. This is going to be at the Crowne Plaza, May 2-5 in Seattle.

[Slide 13]

It’s pretty clear already that this has gone up to another level in a number of ways. We really are anticipating a major international event. As of Monday, 6 weeks out, we have over 113 registrations. We have our wonderful plenaries that I’ll tell you about in a second, and over 100 presentations of various kinds, including 42 that are fully refereed, scholarly, and peer-reviewed, 55 works in progress, practitioner reports, and discussion papers.

This year, in addition to demos and posters that we’ve had in the past associated with papers, we’re going to have an area that will be a permanent demo area and be a place where people can get together and talk and see what’s going on. Various organizations can show what they are up do, and do it in an informal setting.

As of today, we were getting closer to 120, so we’re looking at a really large and multi-faceted conference. That doesn’t count the regional folks who will be, I’m sure, coming. Some of you may know that our area is in what is often called the "compassion corridor", starting maybe down with Mercy Corps in Portland, and World Vision Financial Headquarters in Federal Way, and of course, the Gates Foundation, and lots of global health NGOs, etc. We have quite an active area here if you’re coming from far away.

[Slide 14]

The three plenaries—the tradition is to start off each day with a plenary that gets the juices flowing and gets everybody going, and also the tradition is to have one that’s more NGO focused, one that’s more government focused, and one that’s more academic focused. This year, we’re really fortunate on the NGO focused one—George Fenton, I don’t know if you know him, but he is one of the real leaders in the area of worldwide global logistics, has agreed to help set this one up.

He is at World Vision International and also helped found the Humanitarian Logistics Association. He has put together people who have been deployed to Haiti. We’re going to have a wonderful session on Haiti that looks both at the early stages of assessment during chaos, and then the challenges of getting out of that chaos through communication and coordination, and ultimately issues of recovery and resilience.

I should mention that following this plenary, when we go into the breakouts, one of the breakouts is going to be an ISCRAM session where ISCRAM engages in a discussion of what ISCRAM wants to do to be able to be prepared to contribute to do something when the next one comes. It should ask, ‘should ISCRAM be doing something, and if so, what’? We’re excited about that one.

[Slide 15]

For our government one, we have a real visionary, and we have a wonderful chance to hear Dr. Joseph Kielman, from the Department of Homeland Security, who is one of the really, pretty much with one partner, single-handedly founded the field of visual analytics a number of years ago and applied it to crisis management and disaster management, and is now looking at next-generational already and calls it "PIE" (Precision Information Environment).

This will be a great opportunity to hear what is happening at the top levels of the Department of Homeland Security, and also he is a wonderful speaker and visionary.

[Slide 16]

For our academic, we are incredibly fortunate to have one of the worldwide leaders in the use of geo-based visualization decision making, cognition—he’s a real generalist with a focus on the geo info world. Dr. Alan MacEachren is going to be wonderful to hear.

Those are going to give us a nice breadth of the 3 areas and get us going, and we’ll break off in to lots of different activities and sessions.

[Slide 17]

The theme of the conference is actually "Crisis Management 3.0". We are looking at the future very much in this conference, looking at the next generation. This is an interesting example of the collaborative social networking topics that seemed to have popped up in the papers. These are the top 75 words in paper titles, excluding some of the obvious ones that come from the title of the conference, etc.

You can see how much we are moving into a social networking interest in this area. Plus, it’s kind of pretty. It will probably be a t-shirt.

[Slide 18]

I do want to emphasize, even though we are moving into this somewhat more conference-centric mode, we are not going to lose many of the traditions that we have that involve lots of community building. It is very important, and very important to bridge the community of doers, planners, managers, and researchers. We have a number of social events and breakout opportunities to push in that direction.

[Slide 19]

Finally, there are some people saying hi, and working hard to give you the best experience we can, and basically one email will get you to all of us. It’s [email protected].

Susanne Jul: Thank you, Mark. I wanted to mention one thing on the two tracks, the hot tracks this year in the 2010 Conference. One of the top tracks was collaboration and social networking. That has been one of our very active tracks with many submissions and very high-quality papers this year.

A new track that we added this year that came out as a hot track, very active, and took us a little bit by surprise, but not in retrospect, is planning foresight and risk analysis. That’s an area where there’s a lot of activity and high-quality work happening.

[Slide 20]

Finally, I want to go back to our second mission. We can provide a home for ourselves, but we do, in order to make sure that we are relevant and doing critical work, want to engage with doers and policy makers, and managers. The bottom line here is—vacuum cleaners don’t work in a vacuum. I would like to close with a question to the listeners here. What do you need from research, and how can research engage with you? How can ISCRAM help facilitate that?

We have a website that you can go look at. We also have an open discussion group that you can join in, or send suggestions to at googlegroups. Thank you very much, and we are now open for questions.

Amy Sebring: Thanks very much to you both for sharing that information with us. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Ron Kellis: Will the papers be publically available or must journals be purchased?

Mark Haselkorn: There are conference proceedings that you get when you come to the conference. But then, and Susanne can confirm this, up until this year we have posted that online so people can get access to the papers as well. No, you don’t have to purchase a journal.

Amy Sebring: What does it cost to be a member of ISCRAM?

Susanne Jul: We have multiple memberships. For individual memberships, it is 90 Euro for full-feature country (I think that’s about $120-130), and we have a low fee country that is about a third of that, so that’s anyone classified with a different GOP. There is a list on the website. We also have small business memberships, which is 300 Euro, for a small business, that gets you individual membership and some other benefits.

We have a 900 Euro institutional membership which gets you 3 individual memberships and a number of other benefits. The membership benefits include a reduced fee for the conference. It includes a reduced fee to several journal subscriptions. We have also negotiated, although the details have not been worked out, a peer membership with IAEM, so if you’re a member of one organization, you get a reduction in the membership fee for the other.

We are working on a number of other benefits and would like to hear what people need in terms of benefits.

Amy Sebring: In terms of IAEM, you mentioned you are going to do more MOA’s. Are you planning to do one with the U.S. section of IAEM?

Susanne Jul: We are very interested in an agreement with IAEM.

Eric Kant: Could you or do you provide research on the use of standards in relation to emergency management technology, specifically Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) and how it can facilitate interoperability between multiple systems and technologies?

Susanne Jul: First, I’d like to note that we as the ISCRAM association itself does not undertake research. We are an organization that coordinates researchers. The research that happens is whatever the community takes up, which is driven in part, of course, by where they can get funding, and also what the topics of interest are.

If we look at the word cloud that Mark showed of paper titles, I believe "interoperability" is one of the words on there. That does come up. There are people working on various forms of interoperability, technical as well as social. "Standards", I believe, was also there—standards of various ways.

If you have topics like that—you’ll see "standards" is down in the lower right-hand corner, I should alphabetize this—if you have specific topics such as that, you can search on our website to see if people have published in that area before. Otherwise, put it on the ISCRAM discussion group that there is work that needs to be happening in that area. That is exactly some of the information we need, so we can generate work that is relevant.

Mark Haselkorn: I’ll just throw in that, the other thing that ISCRAM provides is an awareness of what people are working on. There is considerable work both in the interoperability area, and in the standards area.

The standards area is very interesting because many of the humanitarian sector organizations are very much exploring moving from being last-mile deliverers to enablers of regions, into capacity building and therefore, the issue, as they move more into capacity building, they move more into—is our capacity being used well? What are the standards? How can we monitor if the results are good?

There is a very large interest in this issue of standards as organizations move from direct delivery to capacity building.

Amy Sebring: Have you seen any research from your members addressing complexity?

Mark Haselkorn: Absolutely. That happens to be my area. Yes, how to understand and manage systems where the end state is not the desired goal—people often think that the idea of designing a system is you come up with requirements, and then you build to those requirements. Clearly, as you say, we are in a situation where the end state is constantly dynamic and moving.

So how do you design to an evolving system? It’s a very interesting topic.

Isabel McCurdy: Do you have any Canadian organizations on board?

Susanne Jul: Actually, I don’t think we do. We would welcome some, and we would certainly welcome conversations with safety committee organizations and individuals.

Cory Lebson: Does ISCRAM get involved with web usability research of web sites for disaster survivors or disaster managers?

Susanne Jul: Absolutely. There are people doing work on those and studying design and effectiveness. I can’t name any right now, but there is definitely work in that area.

Jaclyn Barcroft: Has anyone done any research on comparing various Critical Incident Management Software products for use during all phases of emergency management?

Mark Haselkorn: I’m not sure there’s bake-off kind of comparative work that I’ve seen. There is certainly a lot of work on reporting, "We did this thing, and here is how it worked out." I think the question is a really good one, because a need for a meta-view across those is really important.

Amy Sebring: Could you tell us a little bit more about how ISCRAM is organized? Do you have committees? Obviously, you have the conference committee. Could you give us an idea of the various areas and how the mission is achieved?

Susanne Jul: We are still working that out. We have the elected board that is doing a lot of the driving right now. One of our goals for 2010 is to get committees up and running. We do want to be a member-led and member-driven community. Some of the committees that are coming up are of course, publications, the various conference committees—we already have our conference committee in place for 2011, and will be starting to accept bids shortly for 2012. That sets up that committee.

We are looking for some internal committees, such as membership and membership management. For external, we are looking to set up a partnership, a committee to manage partnerships and talk to other organizations. This one, some of the research management, writing research questions, collecting research questions, grant challenges—that is one that we’d like to get started.

I’ve been hearing a lot of questions here that go directly on that list. The structure right now is, if someone wants to start a committee, or a work group, or the board has one they would like to see happen, we try to find someone who can champion that. They get a small charter. We right now are working with Google sites. They get a place on Google sites to do their work and recruit members.

We have a board liaison to make sure that what they do fits in with the ISCRAM mission. Basically, it’s a very loose structure. If you have something you want to do, you get in touch with the board and get a board member who will help to try to support you.

Avagene Moore: Susanne, we continue to have a gap between researchers and practitioners in the broad sense although we have been aware of this for years. From your experience and plans for ISCRAM, how do you envision us being more proactive from both sides to make this a 'win-win' for everyone? How can practitioners help?

Mark Haselkorn: As Susanne was implying, the focus in on what we call "participatory research". The problems come from the practice community. We are very much in a facilitator role in a lot of this. If the research is not driven by the practitioner community, it’s not going to be relevant.

This is a different form of research—often also called "action research". I think it’s important to get that message across. It’s a great question.

By the way, I looked it up—there are 3 papers being presented from Canada.

Susanne Jul: Certainly, initiatives such as inviting us to this forum, thank you very much, is very important. What we are finding is that part of the gap is a translational—researchers talk in the abstract and in theories. They don’t really produce something that maybe a practitioner can take home and put on their desk.

It’s understanding the nature of the conversation that needs to happen. Managing expectations on either side—I have personally found that very difficult. Researchers don’t understand that practitioners need something they can put on their desk. Practitioners don’t always understand that is not what researchers produce. They produce something that over time could turn into something on their desk. There is a delay there.

I have also found it to be quite difficult to get to practitioners in various venues, because of the nature of the research topic. Part of it is for everyone to be aware that the conversation has to happen and we have to be open to it even though we can’t see the immediate value to it. We are all learning how to do this.

Amy Sebring: I want to remind our folks in the audience that we have a few more minutes here. One of our purposes here today is to hear from you, to contribute what are you concerns? Where do we have needs that are not adequately being met at this time, whether it is technology per se, or in the area of interoperability, and we know that’s a constant challenge—what are the concerns you have? What are the research questions you would like some of these people to be focusing their attention on?

Susanne Jul: One way of phrasing that is: if the magic could happen, what magic do you need to have happen? In 5 years, or a year, what you like to have that you couldn’t do today?

Mark Haselkorn: I know that we will have a session on what we call "common operating environments". That is, how do you establish an environment with multi-stakeholders, interagency, multi-jurisdiction, multi-mission, multi-system, multi-vocabulary, multi-policy—how, in the socio-technical environment, can technology establish a common operating environment for that regional group. I know there is at least one whole panel on that.

Amy Sebring: What is it like to work with all these international folks that are involved? Do you find differences in approach between people in Europe versus people in the United States?

Susanne Jul: Certainly, you have to get used to time differences. Anyone who has worked with this kind of stuff knows that you really appreciate the people who are willing to get up at 3 a.m. to take a meeting.

There’s a very interesting difference in research traditions between Europe and the U.S. In the U.S., we are very action-oriented. We want to produce an answer. You get Americans at European conferences, where the European research tradition is to formulate the question. I really need to understand what the real question here is. Once you have formulated that, the answer should be obvious. Working out the answer is more a matter of practice.

Americans go to European conferences and the run around going, "But what’s the answer?" Europeans, conversely, come to American conferences, and Americans get up and say what they’ve done, and Europeans run around going, "What’s the question?"

I’ve found that in working with people it is understanding that you need both pieces. It’s not enough to formulate the question—you need a specific answer, and to drive it into some result. On the other hand, driving something to a result without understanding what it is you are trying to achieve or what the real problem is, is not of value either. You have to have both components.

Amy Sebring: Are there any particular journals that your members tend to publish in, or is it just across the board?

Susanne Jul: Right now, because it is such a multi-disciplinary effort, people are still publishing in their individual disciplines. We are trying to promote more publication. There is the International Journal of ISCRAM, which is a little shaky at the moment for a variety of reasons. We will be looking to having a high quality ISCRAM publication.

We also encourage our members to publish in the Journal of Emergency Management, and those kinds of publications.

Dr. Jacqueline McBride: A better way to conduct outreach in diverse communities, with vulnerable populations - in all phases of emergency management.

Susanne Jul: That’s a really good question. You asked earlier how we work along those lines. I am doing some work with Jonas Landgren in Sweden on how you conduct multi-agent workshops and exercises—how you do an exercise that will benefit research purposes, but also help practitioners and technologists in a particular area. Everyone gets benefit.

Mark Haselkorn: If I could add to that, Dr. McBride’s question is really central. We did an NSS sponsored workshop in Kenya where a professor from the Kinshasa School of Public Health in the Congo asked us, "What is the single biggest problem that we have?" We said, "I don’t know. Civil war? AIDS?" And he said, "No, it’s that you can’t say anything authoritative to anyone. No one believes anything. There is no central information. There is no way to get people to tell them anything that they will believe." That’s just a critical question.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thanks very much Susanne and Mark. We appreciate your taking the time to be with us today. We hope your conference is very successful, and that ISCRAM will continue to grow and explore solutions to the challenges we face in the future.

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We stand adjourned. Have a great day everyone!