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Large scale emergencies and disasters require the emergency services to work together in nonstandard ways. Thus we should be accustomed to the idea that emergency responders need to communicate with one another, wherever the emergency or disaster has happened – including underground. Yet inquiries into large scale emergencies and disasters always seem to highlight communication difficulties. It is hard to believe that modern communications and information technology are insufficient to solve this problem. There must, therefore, be other obstacles. Much has been written on the subject of the barriers to communication within, and between, individual responder organizations, including technological, cultural, political and economic barriers. Likewise, many have postulated ways and means to overcome those barriers. However, there has been little written on the positive forces (or drivers) for communication between the services.
This Whitehall Report seeks to redress this balance. It suggests that perhaps it is not the barriers that are too great but that the drivers are insufficiently strong or focused.
Dr Sandra Bell was formerly the Director of RUSI’s Homeland Security & Resilience Department.
Rebecca Cox was a researcher in RUSI’s Homeland Security & Resilience Department from 2004 – 2006.