Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application (JITTA)


Design research perspectives may have a great deal of insights to offer emergency response researchers. We consider man-made and natural disasters as events that often require rapid change to existing institutionalized technical, social, and cultural support structure—a fundamental problem for static systems. Built infrastructure such as electric power and telecommunications or emergency response systems such as fire, police, and National Guard all have static information systems that are tailored to their specific needs. These specialized systems are typical of those developed as a result of applying traditional information systems design theory. They are designed to control domain specific variables and mitigate a specific class of constraints derived from a wellarticulated environment with firm application boundaries. Therefore, typical mission-critical Information and Communication Infrastructure (ICTI) technologies empower knowledge workers with the ability to change current environmental events to ensure safety and security. Disasters create situations that are challenging for typical designs because a disaster erodes control and raises unexpected constraints during an emerging set of circumstances. The unpredictable circumstances of disasters demonstrate that current emergency response ICTI systems are ill equipped to rapidly evolve in concert to address the full scale and scope of such complex problems. A phenomenon found in the treatment of trauma victims, the Golden Trauma Time Interval, is generalized in this paper to all emergencies in order to inform designers of the next generation ICTI. This future ICTI or “Cyberinfrastructure” can provide the essential foundation necessary to dynamically adapt conventional ICTI into a configuration suitable for use during disasters. However, Cyberinfrastructure will suffice only if it can be sufficiently evolved as an Integrated Information Infrastructure (I3 ) that addresses the common sociotechnical factors in these domains. This paper describes fundamental design concepts derived from interdisciplinary theoretical constructs used to inform the creation of a framework to model “complex adaptive systems” (CAS) of which emergency response infrastructural systems and I3 are instances. In previous work, CAS was synthesized with software architecture concepts to arrive at a design approach for the electric power grid’s I3. We will present some of the foundational concepts of CAS that are useful for the future design and development of a Cyberinfrastructure. The ICTI may exist today in a raw form to accomplish the task, but further ICTI design research is required to pinpoint critical inhibitors to its evolution. Also, social, organizational, and institutional issues pertaining to this research will be highlighted as emergency response system design factors needing further consideration. For example, this discussion infers a resolution to the basic tradeoff between personal privacy rights and public safety.