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Responding to the threats and hazards on the UK’s National Risk Register requires a co-ordinated and well-managed response from a wide range of responder agencies. This emergency response community is extremely complex, but understanding how its component parts need to work together during major incidents is vital to ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of that response.
Efforts to improve interoperability have tended to focus on the compatibility of the technology and equipment used by such responders, and primarily on the development of secure, resilient and interoperable Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems. However, technological solutions will not significantly improve interoperability if the human factors that drive the use of that technology are not well understood. Communication is more than just the ‘C’ of ICT.
This report sets out why a better understanding is needed of the relationship between the different responder agencies, how these differences affect the way they are able to work together, and how the barriers to interoperability that have been allowed to develop in the past can be avoided and removed. It sets out the case for creating a single responsible owner for emergency response within central government to ensure that the needs of the emergency response community can be considered holistically, and considers the factors that will determine the success or failure of such an initiative.