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Information and communication technology in emergency organizations: Applications, opportunities, and challenges

Eva-Maria Kern, PhD, MBA, Tobias Schuhmann, MSc, Johannes C. Müller, PhD


The increasing complexity of the globally connected world in the twenty-first century leads to an expansion of the area of operations of so-called emergency organizations* with regard to their aims, tasks, and exposure to risks by fulfilling their intended mission. On the other side, the process of globalization is accompanied by continuous further development of existing information technologies (ICTs) as well as exploration of new forms of ICT. These technologies provide the chance for emergency organizations to gain the ability to act more flexible and effective within their prescribed tasks. As aspects of digitization could have a great impact on many parts of the processes and domains in emergency organizations, a broad view on the topic area is needed. To that end, this article at hand deals with the development of a systematic approach to structure ICT technologies and further approaches and corresponding elements of emergency organizations to find connecting links between both areas. For this purpose, a literature review was conducted. It takes up exemplary sources from literature and describes them along a standardized emergency process. The results of this review led to the development of an ad hoc classification system, which structures and clusters relevant information technologies for emergency organizations. It builds upon the standardized emergency process and could provide a foundation for emergency organizations as well as academic scholars for further information gathering and research. Furthermore, exemplary challenges and opportunities—based on the findings of the review—are provided.


* In connection with this article, the term “emergency organization” is narrowly defined. This means that the term only includes organizations, which perform “operative” emergency operations. Examples are police, fire brigade, and ambulance. Excluded are stationary organizations, for example, hospitals.



emergency management, emergency organization, emergency process, disaster management, information and communication technology, digitization

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