ISCRAM: bridging the gaps between research and public safety

Research on public safety requires collaboration among academic, industry, and government professionals to develop pragmatic solutions to real-world problems and, at the same time, explore future problems to prepare how to solve them. This blog post introduces collaborative research on public safety performed by the ISCRAM community. It suggests opportunities for public-safety professionals who would like to participate and shape this research to address timely issues related to emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.

Who does researches on public safety?

The ISCRAM community includes researchers from academic institutions, industry, and government agencies. ISCRAM stands for “Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management,” which describes the common focus on the design, use, and evaluation of information and communication technologies that unite the types of research performed by the ISCRAM community. 

Each year the community presents their research at the ISCRAM Annual Conference. The first ISCRAM conference was held in Brussels in 2004 and has been held annually at locations that alternate between Europe and the Americas. In 2021, a virtual conference was hosted by Virginia Tech University in the United States. For 2022, the ISCRAM Conference will be held in person in Tarbes, France, at the National School of Engineers of Tarbes (ENIT).

What issues do they research?

Researchers in the ISCRAM community examine a broad range of issues related to the design, use, and evaluation of information systems in emergency response and management. The results of this research are communicated through ISCRAM’s open-access digital library, where +1800 conference papers have been published since 2004.

Several broad areas of research related to public safety include: 

  • Simulations of emergency response: Studies that develop and apply analytic problem-solving techniques, including simulation, optimisation, and statistical analysis, can help decision-makers measure and compare the performance of emergency services during actual and hypothetical emergencies. For example, Zobel et al. (2017) uses 311 call center data to measure the performance of U.S. municipal services across multiple disasters. 
  • Command and control systems: Studies that assess the procedures and technologies needed to monitor and manage resources during an emergency can help decision-makers identify and address requirements for effectively coordinating responses to future crises. Darin-Mattsson & Hallberg (2019), for example, review “do’s” and “don’ts” planners should consider when organising exercises to improve coordination among emergency services. 
  • Resilience of critical infrastructures: Studies that theorize and evaluate the resilience of critical infrastructures and services can help decision-makers improve the ability of communities to cope with disruptions caused by an emergency. For example, Grimes et al. (2017) report on the development of the European Resilience Management Guideline which provides officials with a set of tools to assess risks and build community knowledge related to resilience.  
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in emergency response: Studies examining and developing geospatial methods and tools can help decision-makers improve existing systems for gathering, processing, and visualizing geospatial data that support emergency response operations. For example, Przybyszewski et al. (2016) introduce a novel application for locating 112 callers in Poland.
  • Design of Common Operational Pictures (COP): Studies that examine and define requirements for COP systems can help decision-makers evaluate, design, and adopt systems that enhance situational awareness during an emergency. For example, Steen-Tveit and Radianti (2019) outline implications for COP design based on the experiences of Norwegian first responders participating in a drill simulating multiple emergency scenarios.  

How can public-safety professionals get involved?

Two important venues aim to jump-start collaborations between public-safety professionals and researchers. 

First, public-safety professionals can join the Research Corner sessions jointly hosted by EENA and ISCRAM. The first Research Corner was held at the EENA Conference & Exhibition 2021 in Riga and featured presentations on simulated 112 call-taking operations, trends affecting emergency medical services, virtual emergency operation centers during the COVID-19 pandemic and predictive analytics for emergency response. This and future Research Corner sessions provide an opportunity for public-safety professionals to meet and provide feedback to researchers engaged in ongoing projects and make connections that can lead to future collaborative projects.

Secondly, industry and government professionals are highly encouraged to submit “Practitioner” papers to the ISCRAM annual conference. Submitting a Practitioner paper to the conference allows public-safety professionals to bring timely, real-world problems to the attention of researchers in the ISCRAM community. In addition, discussing these papers in small sessions with other professionals and researchers creates open opportunities for mutual learning and collaborative projects that can address these problems through the design, evaluation, and use of information and communications technologies. Practitioner papers are relatively short in length (500-3000 words) and peer-reviewed to meet the needs of practitioners, professionals, and policy makers. Accepted papers are included in the conference proceedings and made available through the ISCRAM digital library. Practitioner papers for the 2022 ISCRAM Conference in Tarbes, France, are due January 25th, 2022.

Additional links:

EENA Conference and Exhibition 2021 – Research Corner

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of EENA. Articles do not represent an endorsement by EENA of any organisation.

Rob Grace
Vice President at ISCRAM (Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management) | Website

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