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close this bookEmergency 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.)
close this folderPart 1: Information management systems
close this folderInformation dissemination
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOrganizational protocols
View the documentUse of coordination structures for information dissemination
View the documentUse of the media in information dissemination
View the documentThe Internet and the World Wide Web

The Internet and the World Wide Web


The technical capacity to receive and disseminate inexpensively nearly limitless volumes of information greatly increases the risk of decision makers drowning in a sea of detail.

Emergency managers familiar with the ease of disseminating email messages over the Internet and of documents over the Web already understand the information management revolution that is occurring. The ability to disseminate information instantaneously and inexpensively to interested parties around the globe has major implications for emergency managers. On the positive side, headquarters and field workers with access to the Internet can receive daily or even hourly updates of disaster conditions, detailed accounts of human and material resources available for the response, and state-of-the-art technical advice. They can disseminate their particular messages - needs, findings, conclusions - to a pre-selected pool of recipients who have an interest in their work.

A discussion of the ease of dissemination via the Internet must also consider the negative side of the equation. The technical capacity to receive and disseminate inexpensively nearly limitless volumes of information greatly increases the risk of decision makers drowning in a sea of detail. To minimize this possibility, managers at all levels of the organization must define what is needed under particular conditions, and what has only superficial value. Without a concerted attempt to set information priorities and exercise self-discipline, emergency managers will increasingly confront a working environment in which time is wasted wading through oceans of information.

Having thus given warning, users of this module may find Annex A (a listing of Disaster and Emergency Information Management Sites on the World Wide Web) of some use.


EXERCISE

Information Sharing in Zenon: The EPC director closes his folder and throws up his hands. “Meeting adjourned,” he sighs. The UNHCR administrative assistant and a low level representative from the Ministry of Interior both stand and then leave the room without a word.

“Maybe we should talk for a bit,” the EPC director says to his assistant and the Red Cross director who are the only ones remaining. “This was supposed to be a coordination meeting,” the director says. “A coordination meeting requires people with ideas to coordinate. No people, no ideas, no coordination. Could someone please tell me what’s wrong with this picture?”

The Red Cross director nods. “If I may? During the last hurricane emergency, representatives from practically every agency in town came here to share information. Daily. For the first week anyway. Then they stopped. Mostly because they didn’t leave these meetings with anything of value. Everyone felt EPC was taking their information and giving nothing back. They came to share but it was a one-way flow. So they stopped coming.”

The EPC director nods and then looks at his assistant director. “I think it’s time you and I had a talk about information-sharing.”

Q. You are the EPC director. What problems with regard to information dissemination do you confront? What steps will you take to deal with these problems?




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