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On the Need for a Paradigm Shift in the Dutch Command and Information System for the Acute Phase of Disasters

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Abstract

By and large, scientists agreed on what should be the output of a good command and information system in the acute phase of a disaster. The public needs fast and accurate information and fast ‘meaning-making’ if they are to be as self-reliant as possible and to be in the best possible position to cope with the shock of the disaster. Operational units need decentralized command and sometimes fast strategic decision-making. Despite this, classical command and information systems such as the three-tier system required by law in the Netherlands fail to deliver in this regard. We sketch an analytical framework which when applied to the Dutch system predicts its failure. We also present a different command and information system, already used in the Drenthe Safety Region, which satisfies the analytical framework. Early experience with the Drenthe system shows the potential of the new system but also shows that no system is better than the people in it.

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