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Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Editor-in-Chief: Renda-Tanali, Irmak, D.Sc.

Managing Editor: McGee, Sibel, Ph.D.

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Emergency Management Planning as Collaborative Community Work

Wendy A Schafer1 / John M Carroll2 / Steven R Haynes3 / Stephen Abrams4

1General Dynamics C4 Systems - VIZ

2The Pennsylvania State University

3The Pennsylvania State University

4The Pennsylvania State University

Citation Information: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Volume 5, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1547-7355, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1547-7355.1396, March 2008

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Emergencies often have causes and effects that are global. However, emergencies are also inherently local: They occur in a particular place and point in time. While it is critical for governments and society to better organize emergency management top-down, it is also important to become more aware of local community-level values, planning, involvement, knowledge, and skill. Local communities plan collaboratively for potential emergencies of varying scales.Our discipline of Human-Computer Interaction studies the interaction between people and computers. Researchers in this field consider how information technology affects emergency management. They aim to improve emergency management through the design of useful and novel interfaces to technology. The purpose of our work was to take a broader perspective on emergency management and investigate the models and patterns of emergency-related work practices. In particular, we examined emergency management from a local community perspective. This focus on local communities partly stems from our prior research on community groups and their use of information technology. It is also motivated by the realization that emergencies are local events, which happen in communities.This paper reports on a study of one community's emergency planning activities. Five aspects of community preparedness are discussed: collaborative efforts, local area details, local culture, geographic information, and emergency plans, and a case study provides concrete examples of each. Local community preparedness is complex and gives rise to many collaboration issues. Revealing this complexity, the paper offers some implications for community emergency management technology.

Keywords: emergency planning; ethnography; field study; human-computer interaction; community informatics

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