In this blog entry we introduce the problematic of flexible inter-organizational disaster process management and the approach that the Public Security team at SAP Research France is investigating in.

Over the last years we have seen a rise in disasters, let it be natural disasters or man-made disasters, such as hurricane Katrina or terrorism. The situation after a disaster is by definition chaotic and requires a rigorous approach to manage the chaos. Public security organizations have developed various methods for implementing such an approach. Although disaster process management is an important part of this, it has only recently received attention by various national and European Research projects (e.g. [1-3]). Research has identified the following challenges for disaster process management:

1.       How should the dynamic and flexible processes be modeled and described

2.       How should the processes be executed in an information system

3.       How does disaster process management work on the inter-organizational level

Challenge 1 and 2 have been widely addressed for some business domains in the literature. Currently, these ideas do not have much commercial success, although they are known for quite a while (sometimes over a decade). This has many reasons, such as complexity for management of change, support of wrong change management approaches, unrealistic/wrong requirements and use cases and poor validation of these approaches in real scenarios. Unsurprisingly, research in the research projects mentioned before has focused on other new approaches fitting better to the dynamic context of disaster processes.

Challenge 3 has not yet been very well investigated in the disaster process domain. Several approaches on inter-organizational process management exist for certain business domains. Similar to the approaches mentioned before, they do not have much commercial success and they do also not fit to the requirements of disaster management processes. We are currently investigating inter-organizational disaster process management, which includes all three aspects mentioned before.  Major challenges we are addressing are:

  • Organizations are truly independent: they decide what they share with whom
  • There is no common process, but processes of different organizations interacting with each other
  • Processes change very often and organizations need to be informed about changes, although organizations may not know each other directly or communication infrastructure is not reliable

The outcome of our research will be a flexible concept to define and execute processes on an inter-organizational level meeting these challenges. In a later stage we will also include a security and trust solution into this. We are working together with end users in the domain in various projects (e.g. [4]) and are always looking forward to find new collaboration partners (e.g. other researcher or end users).

Our work will also have impact on other dynamic domains, such as creative industries, project management or business networks.

This work results from the collaboration between Public Security, SAP Research FRANCE and the Environments for COOperation (ECOO) group at LORIA-INRIA in Nancy, France. The research was partially funded by means of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the promotional reference 01ISO7009 (see [4]). The author takes the responsibility for the content.

[1] Metrik (Modellbasierte Entwicklung von Technologien für selbstorganisierende dezentrale Informationssysteme im Katastrophenmanagement)

[2] Workpad (An Adaptive Peer-to-Peer Software Infrastructure for Supporting Collaborative Work of Human Operators in Emergency/Disaster Scenarios)

[3] Genoplan (Generischer notfallplan und adaptives Prozessmodell zum Schutz der kommunalverwaltung im Pandemiefall)

[4] SoKNOS (Service-orientierte ArchiteKturen zur Unterstützung von Netzwerken im Rahmen Oeffentlicher Sicherheit)

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