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Emergency Communications Stocktaking was prepared by Analysys Mason with and on behalf of the European Network and Information Security Agency.
Emergency service organisations need to work more closely with each other, and with the public, including using social media during incidents, says the report.
Analysys Mason was commissioned by ENISA to assess how the technology and processes used in emergency responses could be improved, with the aim of providing guidance to policymakers in EU Member States and EU organisations. The report can be found here.
Communications technology is important for all organisations, but for the emergency services it can be a matter of life and death. The way they communicate – internally, and with other emergency responders – can make the difference between an efficient operation and a serious situation turning into a crisis.
Emergency Communications Stocktaking is based on a series of interviews conducted with a range of stakeholders working directly in crisis response, as well as representatives from regulatory areas and the ICT industry.
The aim was to identify good practice and highlight potential gaps and barriers to effective crisis communications. In post-crisis reviews of major incidents, including the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005, inter-agency communications are often identified as a problem.
The report highlights a range of issues that can contribute to difficulties, and which, if corrected, could make emergency communications far more effective. Issues include the development of different communications standards and practices between, for example, police and ambulance services, and technology failure in crisis situations.
The report also suggests that in the age of 24-hour news and social media, there should be formal processes for using electronic information from the public to improve ‘situational awareness’, i.e. to understand how events are developing at an incident in real time.
The report makes a series of recommendations to Member State governments, competent authorities, service providers and the bodies of the EU aimed at:
- developing improved inter-agency crisis communications technology and procedures
- defining standards in crisis communications technology and procedures
- encouraging the uptake of data services in emergency communications, particularly in the area of public interaction.
‘ENISA is truly a pace setter for information security in Europe,’ commented Duncan Swan, Partner at Analysys Mason. ‘This report pulls together a wealth of reference material that will be invaluable to organisations not only in Europe, but worldwide, which are involved in public protection and disaster recovery (PPDR), and emergency communications in particular.’