|Emergency Information Management and Telecommunications - 1st Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1997, 62 p.)|
|Part 1: Information management systems|
This part of the module is designed to enhance your understanding of:
· the concept of information management as a systematic cycle
· the categories of information needed by emergency managers at the various phases of response
· the various techniques and tools of data-gathering and analysis available to emergency managers
· the issues of information dissemination in an emergency both within and outside of the organization
· the need for and steps involved in building, maintaining, and using institutional memory.
In setting up - or assessing the effectiveness of - an information management system, a manager should consider the various meanings of the word system offered here:
system (sis tem), n. 1. an assemblage or combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary whole. 2. any assemblage or set of correlated members. 3. an ordered and comprehensive assemblage of facts, principles, doctrines, or the like, in a particular field of knowledge or thought. 4. a coordinated body of methods or a complex scheme or plan of procedure...
- The Random House Dictionary of the English Language
In each meaning, there is the concept of wholeness, of unity, of the coordination of the various components of the system. An effective information system provides selective information relevant to the users needs, clarifies particular problems and available options, and helps the user to make reasonable choices. It does not drown the decision maker in a sea of information but, rather, adds value and coherence to the decision makers activities. It provides a whole picture.
An emergency information management system is no different: it, too, must select from and organize the various data collected and disseminated by what is likely to be a multitude of emergency respondents. The system must process that data to enable the development and implementation of a clear plan of action in response to the emergency.
The Information Management Cycle
Such a system may be viewed as a cycle (see figure) starting with the identification of user needs and continuing through the feedback of lessons learned (here termed institutional memory) into program design or modification.
The emergency manager responsible for the information management system must ensure that each of these five components of the system are funded, well-staffed, and coordinated with the other components. Neglect of any of the parts can bring the cycle to a halt with potentially devastating results for the affected population.
This part of the module is sub-divided according to the components of this information management cycle, starting with the essential concepts and issues involved in needs identification.