Towards an integrated approach to emergency management: interdisciplinary challenges for research and practice


  • Christian Webersik Department of Global Development and Planning, University of Agder, Norway
  • Jose J Gonzalez Department for ICT, University of Agder, Norway
  • Julie Dugdale University Grenoble Alps, France
  • Bjørn Erik Munkvold Information Systems, University of Agder, Norway
  • Ole-Christoffer Granmo Centre for Integrated Emergency Management (CIEM), University of Agder, Norway



Disaster, disaster perception, disaster vulnerability, social media, emergency management, integrated operations, information and communication technology, human-centred sensing, ad hoc networks, smart phones, virtual collaboration, Integrated Operation


This article presents an interdisciplinary vision for large-scale integrated emergency management that has been inspired by the transition from platform centric to integrated operations in the oil and gas fields, which uses remote emergency control centres collaborating virtually with local responders. The article discusses some of the most salient research challenges for integrated emergency management, including the role of mobile technology, human-centred sensing, citizen participation and social media, and the socio-cultural determinants of disaster management. The purpose of this article is to frame an integrated emergency management approach that adopts a multi-disciplinary approach, including human computer interaction, information systems, computer science, development studies and organization science employing different methodologies.Most importantly, we need to better understand the socio-cultural determinants of how people prepare to, respond and perceive disasters, in order to evaluate whether and what kind of information and communication technology (ICT) support is appropriate. There is need for more research as to why in some regions local people ignore official orders to evacuate, and rather follow the advice of local leaders, elders or religious leaders. In other instances, disasters are seen as ‘acts of God’ thus shaping disaster preparedness and response.


Ahrens, Joachim and Patrick M. Rudolph (2006): 'The Importance of Governance in Risk Reduction and Disaster Management.' Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 14(4), 207-220. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5973.2006.00497.x

Albrechtsen, E. (2010): 'Improved Safety Performance by Integrated Operations and its Implications for Risk Management', E. Albrechtsen (ed.): Essays on Socio-technical Vulnerabilities and Strategies of Control in Integrated Operations, Trondheim, SINTEF.

Albrechtsen, E. and D. Besnard (2010): 'Views on Socio-technical Vulnerabilities and Strategies of Control in Integrated Operations', E. Albrechtsen (ed): Essays on Socio-technical Vulnerabilities and Strategies of Control in Integrated Operations, Trondheim, SINTEF.

Alexander, David (1997): 'The Study of Natural Disasters, 1977–97: Some Reflections on a Changing Field of Knowledge', Disasters 21(4), 284-304.

Bjørke, Sven Åke (2011): 'E-learning for sustainable development - rationale, strategies, choices and actions. Experiences from the study programme MSc in Development Management.' - International journal of media, technology and lifelong learning 7(2),79-93.

Carter, Michael R., Peter D. Little, Tewodaj Mogues and Workneh Negatu (2007): 'Poverty Traps and Natural Disasters in Ethiopia and Honduras.' World Development 35(5), 835-856. DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2006.09.010

Chester, David K. and Angus M. Duncan (2009): 'The Bible, theodicy and Christian responses to historic and contemporary earthquakes and volcanic eruptions', Environmental Hazards 8(4), 304-332.

Cowan, F. ( 2005) 'Images for your SitRep: Camera phone photos', IAEMBulletin (Aug. 2005), 5-6.

Drabek, Thomas E. (1999): 'Understanding disaster warning responses.' The Social Science Journal 36(3), 515-523. DOI: 10.1016/S0362-3319(99)00021-X

Dubé, L. and D. Robey (2009): 'Surviving the Paradoxes of Virtual Teamwork.' Information systems journal 19(1), 3-30. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2575.2008.00313.x

Dugdale, Julie, Bartel Van de Walle and Corinna Koeppinghoff (2012): 'Social Media and SMS in the Haiti Earthquake.' Social Web for Disaster Management Workshop. International WWW 2012 Conference. Lyon France.

Egeland, E. and P. E. Engelstad (2009): 'The Availability and Reliability of Wireless Multi-hop Networks with Stochastic Link Failures', IEEE JSAC 27(7), 1132-1146.

EM-DAT (2012): EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database, Brussels: Université Catholique de Louvain.

Esteban, Miguel, Christian Webersik and Tomoya Shibayama (2010): 'Methodology for the Estimation of the Increase in Time Loss due to Future Increase in Tropical Cyclone Intensity in Japan.' Climatic Change 102(3-4).

Evaristo, J. Roberto and Bjørn Erik Munkvold (2002): 'Collaborative Infrastructure Formation in Virtual Projects,' Journal of Global Information Technology Management 5(2), 29-47.

Füssel, Hans-Martin (2007): 'Vulnerability: A generally applicable conceptual framework for climate change research', Global Environmental Change 17(2) , 155-167.

Garcia, Tonya (2011): 'New Zealand Earthquake Spurs Social Media Response' PRNewser.

Hall, David L. and John M. Jordan (2010): Human-centered information fusion, Boston: Artech House.

Harnesk, D., S. Samuelsson and J. Lindström (2009): 'Action Research Supported Implementation of a Crisis Competence Centre. Proceedings of the 6th International ISCRAM Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden', 6th International ISCRAM Conference. Gothenburg, Sweden.

Hastrup, Frida (2011): Weathering the world : recovery in the wake of the tsunami in a Tamil fishing village, New York: Berghahn Books.

Hewitt, Kenneth (1997): Regions of risk: a geographical introduction to disasters, Harlow: Longman.

Hsiang, Solomon M., Kyle C. Meng and Mark A. Cane (2011): 'Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate', Nature 476(7361), 438-441. DOI: 10.1038/nature10311

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2013): Word Disasters Report, Geneva.

Jiang, M. and W. L. McGill (2010): 'Human-centered Sensing for Crisis Response and Management Analysis Campaigns', ISCRAM 2010. Seattle, WA, USA.

Jung, H. and M. A. Ingram (2011): 'Lifetime Optimization of Multi-hop Wireless Sensor Networks by Regulating the Frequency of Use of Cooperative Transmission', IEEE MILCOM, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Kapadia, Apu, Nikos Tri, Cory Cornelius, Daniel Peebles and David Kotz (2008): 'Opportunistic and Privacy-Preserving Context Collection.' 6th Int’l Conf. on Pervasive Computing.

Koeppinghoff, Corinna (2011): Humanitarian relief and the role of Information Management – The case of Haiti. Master thesis, Tilburg University.

Kverndokk, Kyrre (2014): 'Mediating the Morals of Disasters: Hurricane Katrina in Norwegian News Media.' Nordic Journal of Science and Technology 2(1), 78-87.

Lane, Nicholas D. , Emiliano Miluzzo, Hong Lu, Daniel Peebles, Tanzeem Choudhury and Andrew T. Campbell (2010): 'A Survey of Mobile Phone Sensing.' IEEE Communications Magazine.

Lu, Hong, Wei Pan, Nicholas D. Lane, Tanzeem Choudhury and Andrew T. Campbell (2009): 'Sound-Sense: Scalable Sound Sensing for People-Centric Applications on Mobile Phones.' 7th ACM MobiSys.

Meum, Torbjørg Træland (2014): 'An Action Design Research Approach to Developing Emergency Management Systems.' 11th International ISCRAM Conference. Pennsylvania.

Misanya, Doreen and Arne Olav Øyhus (2015): 'How communities' perceptions of disasters influence disaster response: managing landslides on Mount Elgon, Uganda.' Disasters 39(2):389-405. DOI: 10.1111/disa.12099

Mun, Min, Sasank Reddy, Katie Shilton, Nathan Yau, Jeff Burke, Deborah Estrin, Mark Hansen, Eric Howard, Ruth West and Peter Boda (2009): 'PEIR, the personal environmental impact report, as a platform for participatory sensing systems research.' Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Mobile systems, applications, and services, Krakow: ACM.

Munkvold, Bjørn Erik (2006): 'Experiences from Global e-Collaboration: Contextual Influences on Technology Adoption and Use', IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 48(1),78-86.

Munkvold, Bjørn Erik and Ilze Zigurs (2007): 'Process and Technology Challenges in Swift-starting Virtual Teams,' Information & Management 44, 287-299.

Mutter, John (2010): 'Disasters widen the rich-poor gap.' Nature 466(7310):1042-1042. DOI: 10.1038/4661042a

Neumayer, Eric and Thomas Plümper (2007): 'The Gendered Nature of Natural Disasters: The Impact of Catastrophic Events on the Gender Gap in Life Expectancy, 1981-2002', Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97(3), 551-566.

Nyfløt, Hilda (2011): 'Ekstremværet «Cato» treffer Nordland i morgen', Dagbladet 24 December 2011.

O'Riordan, Tim (1999): 'Book Reviews: Regions of Risk: A Geographical Introduction to Disasters', Urban Studies 36(7):1217-1234.

Ogier, R. and P. Spagnolo (2009): 'Mobile Ad Hoc Network (MANET) Extension of OSPF using Connected Dominating Set (CDS) Flooding', RFC 5614, IETF, Aug. 2009.

Oliver-Smith, Anthony and Susannah M. Hoffman (1999): The angry earth: disaster in anthropological perspective. New York: Routledge.

Palen, Leysia, Kenneth Mark Anderson, Gloria Mark, James Martin, Douglas Sicker, Martha Palmer and Dirk Grunwald (2010): 'A Vision for Technology-Mediated Support for Public Participation & Assistance in Mass Emergencies & Disasters', Association of Computing Machinery and British Computing Society’s, 2010 Conference on Visions of Computer Science.

Palen, Leysia, Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Sophia B. Liu (2007): 'Online Forums Supporting Grassroots Participation in Emergency Preparedness and Response', Communications of the ACM 50(3), 54-58.

Palen, Leysia and Sophia B. Liu (2007): 'Citizen Communications in Crisis: Anticipating a Future of ICT-Supported Participation', ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI-2007. San Jose, CA.

Powell, A., G. Piccoli and B. Ives (2004): 'Virtual teams: a review of current literature and directions for future research', The Database for Advances in Information Systems 35(1), 6-36.

Qu, Y., P. Wu and X. Wang (2009): 'Online Community Response to Major Disaster: A Case Study of Tianya Forum in the 2008 China Earthquake', 42nd Hawaii Int’l Conf. on System Sciences.

Reilly, Benjamin (2009): Disaster and human history : case studies in nature, society and catastrophe, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.

Schade, Sven, Laura Díaz, Frank Ostermann, Laura Spinsanti, Gianluca Luraschi, Simon Cox, Manoli Nuñez and Bertrand De Longueville (2012): Citizen-based sensing of crisis events: sensor web enablement for volunteered geographic information, Applied Geomatics.

Simpson, N. C. and P. G. Hancock (2009): 'Fifty years of operational research and emergency response', Journal of the Operational Research Society 60 Supplement 1, 126-139.

Skidmore, Mark and Hideki Toya (2002): 'Do Natural Diasters Promote Long-Run Growth?', Economic Enquiry 40(4), 664-687.

Starbird, K. and J. Stamberger (2010): 'Tweak the Tweet: Leveraging Microblogging Proliferation with a Prescriptive Syntax to Support Citizen Reporting', 7th International ISCRAM Conference. Seattle.

Stromberg, Per M., Miguel Esteban and Alexandros Gasparatos (2011): 'Climate change effects on mitigation measures: The case of extreme wind events and Philippines’ biofuel plan', Environmental Science & Policy 14(8), 1079-1090.

Thomas, E. Drabek and A. McEntire David (2003): 'Emergent phenomena and the sociology of disaster: lessons, trends and opportunities from the research literature', Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal 12(2), 97-112.

Tierney, Kathleen, Christine Bevc and Erica Kuligowski (2006): 'Metaphors Matter: Disaster Myths, Media Frames, and Their Consequences in Hurricane Katrina', Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 604, 57-81.

Tomaszewski, Brian M., Anthony C. Robinson, Chris Weaver, Michael Stryker and Alan M. Maceachren ( 2007): 'Geovisual Analytics and Crisis Management', 4th International ISCRAM Conference.

Turoff, Murray, Michael Chumer, Bartel Van de Walle and Yao Xiang (2004) 'The Design of a Dynamic Emergency Response Management Information Systems,' Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application 5(4), 1-35.

Turoff, Murray, Bartel Van de Walle and Starr Roxanne Hiltz (2010): 'Emergency Response Information Systems', Bartel Van de Walle, Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz (eds): Information systems for emergency management, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Tyshchuk, Y., C. Hui, M. Grabowski and W. A. Wallace (2012): 'Social Media and Warning Response Impacts in Extreme Events: Results from a Naturally Occuring Experiment', 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-45), Maui, HI.

United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (2012): Towards a Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva: ISDR.

Van de Walle, Bartel and Murray Turoff (2007): 'Emergency Response Information Systems: emerging Trends and Technologies.' Communications of the ACM 50(3), 28-32.

Watson-Manheim, M. B., K. M. Chudoba and K. Crowston (2012): 'Perceived Discontinuities and Constructed Continuities in Virtual Work', Information systems journal 22(1), 29-52.

Webersik, Christian (2010): Climate change and security: a gathering storm of global challenges, Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger.

Zhang, Shumei, Paul McCullagh, Chris Nugent and Huiru Zheng (2010): 'Activity Monitoring Using a Smart Phone's Accelerometer with Hierarchical Classification', Sixth International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE '10).

Zook, M., M. Graham, T. Shelton and S. Gorman (2010): 'Volunteered Geographic Information and Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief: A Case Study of the Haitian Earthquake.' World Medical & Health Policy 2(2), 7-33. DOI: 10.2202/1948-4682.1069






Theme: Cultures of Disasters