research can enable improved and new government services, operations, and interactions with citizens, the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board's (CSTB's) Committee on Computing and Communications Research to Enable Better Use of Information Technology in Government organized a workshop focused on crisis management (Appendix A). This workshop, on which this summary is based, explored how information technology (IT) research can contribute to more effective crisis management.
Crises are extreme events that cause significant disruption and put lives and property at risksituations distinct from ''business as usual." The first panel of the six that made presentations at the workshop described a number of different crisis scenarios, covering a scope and scale ranging from localized effects of flash flooding to the regionwide impact of earthquakes and hurricanes to the impacts in cyberspace posed by Y2K computer bugs.2 These case studies, which included both natural disasters and human-made disasters such as nuclear accidents and the effects of a terrorist bombing, provide a sense of the sorts of challenges faced in the crisis management community, as well as a concrete context for the IT-focused discussions that follow. The reader who is unfamiliar with such disaster scenarios may wish to read the case study overviews in Appendix B, which are based on the experiences of crisis managers who participated in the workshop.
As used in this report, the term "crisis management" encompasses activities ranging from the immediate response to mitigation and preparedness efforts that are aimed at reducing the impact of future events and take place over a longer time period.3 The following four, commonly described phases of crisis management are referred to throughout this report:
2The workshop from which this report stems focused largely on civilian crisis management, and most of the examples are related to natural disasters as opposed to such threats as the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists. However, the essential nature of crisis response in all these cases is not dissimilar. Many of the requirements established by the urgent, disruptive nature of both and the research opportunities discussed in this report are generally applicable to both.
3Two notes on usage. The term "crisis management" is sometimes used to refer only to the response phase and not to other elements of coping with crises such as mitigation efforts to reduce the impact of disasters in the future. Also, in some contexts a distinction is made between "crisis management" and "consequence management." This distinction has been made in a series of presidential decision directives and in the recently added terrorism
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