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to victims. Jack Harrald, describing the allocation of emergency dollars to information technology, noted that crisis management places a premium on providing relief funds directly to victims—functioning much like an insurance company. Thus there is a reluctance to tap into the disaster response funding stream, which is much larger than day-to-day operating funds, for investment in information technology to improve crisis management capabilities.

Inadequate systemwide planning. James Morentz observed that the emergency management community does not always factor information technology considerations into overall planning. Although virtually all of the federal response agency organizations use software developed by Morentz's company, Essential Technologies, their decisions to purchase the software were made independently. No overall system plan existed that would facilitate integration of these individual software systems into a single system. Another problem was raised by Thomas O'Keefe, who observed that when emergency management structures are designed, they do not always incorporate technology that is close at hand or already in place. Nor are interfaces that are already familiar to crisis responders, such as the Web, always used.

Tendencies to ''reinvent" the same solutions in each organization. Henry Kelly observed that sharing information technology experience can be difficult for agencies so they tend to reinvent their own solutions using their own contractors. Thus, the government may reinvent a technology multiple times in different application contexts. Although this practice may have benefits in allowing an organization to select the technological best of breed, the resulting multiplicity of systems may not effectively interoperate or support upgrades. In addition, when underlying infrastructure such as the operating system changes, many parts of the whole system may have to be replaced or upgraded. This issue is a common one in many areas of systems integration and may be addressed through active reconsideration of architectural and design approaches.1

Coping with multiple standards. Information systems depend on standards. Thomas O'Keefe pointed out, for example, that there are multiple standards for damage assessment after an incident such as a fire. To integrate and compare this information across different organizations, standards—or ways of reconciling multiple standards—must be established for every aspect of the information life cycle. In addition, identifying which standards to adopt poses a very real challenge for emergency managers purchasing hardware and software.

1One approach is to emphasize commercial standards and components that may be assembled into composable systems rather than relying on tight integration to provide particular solutions.

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