Common operational pictures as collective problem representations: The case of the 2018 wildfires in Sweden


  • Tove Frykmer, PhD
  • Maja Svenbro, PhD Candidate



common operational pictures, emergency and disaster response management, problem representation


Common operational pictures (COPs) can be seen as collective problem representations that facilitate effective problem solving during emergency response. This article investigates how problems are represented in COPs and discusses how such problem representations could be improved to better inform ongoing response operations. A content analysis of 41 COPs created by a Swedish county board during the largescale wildfires that broke out in 2018 shows that most problems are represented in terms of geographic references and the status of fires, what problems to avoid, or risks, and resource type and status. These representations were found to be key for managing the response, as they enabled the scope of the response to be determined and facilitated proactive strategies; actions could be planned; the response organization could be set up. Further investigations could examine if problem representations described in terms of a gap between an undesirable current state and desired goal state would improve the usefulness of COPs, and, ultimately, better inform ongoing response operations.

Author Biographies

Tove Frykmer, PhD

Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Maja Svenbro, PhD Candidate

Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, Lund University, Lund, Sweden


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How to Cite

Frykmer, T., and M. Svenbro. “Common Operational Pictures As Collective Problem Representations: The Case of the 2018 Wildfires in Sweden”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 21, no. 5, Nov. 2023, pp. 385-97, doi:10.5055/jem.0796.