Interoperability and Information Brokers in Public Safety: An Approach toward Seamless Emergency Communications
When a disaster occurs, the rapid gathering and sharing of crucial information among public safety agencies, emergency response units, and the public can save lives and reduce the scope of the problem; yet, this is seldom achieved. The lack of interoperability hinders effective collaboration across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries. In this article, we propose a general architecture for emergency communications that incorporates (1) an information broker, (2) events and event-driven processes, and (3) interoperability. This general architecture addresses the question of how an information broker can overcome obstacles, breach boundaries for seamless communication, and empower the public to become active participants in emergency communications. Our research is based on qualitative case studies on emergency communications, workshops with public safety agencies, and a comparative analysis of interoperability issues in the European public sector. This article features a conceptual approach toward proposing a way in which public safety agencies can achieve optimal interoperability and thereby enable seamless communication and crowdsourcing in emergency prevention and response.