Guide to Achieving Interoperability in Information and Emergency Management

Best Practice Guide

First, why interagency cooperation matters

Few things are more challenging for responder agencies than procuring and deploying the right resources during a large-scale emergency. Already difficult, emergency incident response taxes oft-scarce resources, be they personnel, skills, technologies, facilities, equipment, or funding. And those resources matter. They matter a lot. During an emergency, getting the right resources to the right place at the right time often proves the difference between life or death.

So, what’s to be done? For one, interagency cooperation can effectively buoy the response effort. As a collective, cooperating partner agencies can achieve more than any one agency acting on its own. By pooling resources, agencies can amplify resource development and deployment.

Field research bears this out. Effective interagency cooperation creates a positive feedback loop. The right services and programs get recognition and visibility, which, in turn, provides more opportunity for vital, new projects to be undertaken.

But interagency cooperation doesn’t happen easily. It takes hard work and planning, because the challenges are so stark. For instance, in this era of emergency IT solutions, the ability of responders from different agencies to work seamlessly with other systems or products is becoming an ever-larger component of interoperability. More than ever, responders need to be able to talk to each other and share information on demand and in real time. Using interoperable technologies helps facilitate more efficient communication as well as lets agencies deploy the best resources into the disaster zone, mitigating catastrophe in the process.

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