Improved utilization of emergency preparedness resources with support from digital tools

FFI-Report 2024
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Eli Gjørven Ann-Kristin Elstad Thor Engøy Matti Fossum Håkon Kløvstad Olafsen Ragnhild Endresen Siedler
As a part of Norway’s total defense, the Norwegian Armed Forces support the civilian society in crises such as the mudslide in Gjerdrum in 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. During a crisis, different civilian and military actors are responsible for crisis management within their separate sectors. To ensure effective resource utilization, such as hospital beds, vaccination capacity, and search and rescue teams, the actors need to coordinate their use of resources. In this report, we look at the regional coordination of resource utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic in the County Emergency Council (CEC) in the county of Innlandet. We consider the following question: Can a digital tool contribute to better quality in the decision-making processes of regional crisis management in the CEC when it comes to decisions about resource utilization? To answer this question, we study if – and if so how – such a tool can contribute to a better understanding of the crisis and its development, a better understanding of the available resources and the resources needed, and ultimately better decisions. Additionally, we consider what functionality such a tool would require. For our study, we conducted a game where the participants in the CEC tested such a tool. We studied if the participants in the game found that the tool improved their decision-making process by interviewing them before and after the game. We analyzed the information from our interviews within the categories Information sharing, Situational picture, Resource picture, Predicting the development of the crisis, Priorities and decisions, and Prerequisites for use. Our conclusion is that using a digital tool can in fact contribute to a better decision-making process in the CEC. We also identify some important factors related to the design and use of the tool. Based on the study, our main recommendation is that decision makers, who have to understand a large amount of complex information in order to manage crises, be supported by a suitable digital tool. The tool should have functionality to collate, share and present information. We also recommend that the target users contribute to identifying workflows and required functionality for such tools and contribute to its development. Lastly, we highlight select experiences from our work with this report that we believe should be considered when acquiring such a tool.

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