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Appendix E

Groups as open systems

System concepts


EM organization


  • Every component of a system affects and is affected by every other component.

  • Every member affects and is affected by every other member.

  • The system, though it has many components, assumes an identity as a unit.

  • The organization, though it has many members, assumes an identity as a unit.

  • A change in one component effects changes in all other components

  • The whole is different from the sum of the parts

  • The outcome of collaboration is different from the combined outcomes of the same people working alone.


  • An open system self-regulates: it receives processes new information, then discards what it does not need to survive.

  • A group self-regulates: it receives and examines new information for relevance and reliability, then discards the irrelevant and unreliable.

  • It freely exchanges information with the environment.

  • Group members interact outside the group, freely exchanging ideas.


  • All systems have spatial relationships: components that are above, below, beside, behind, or facing.

  • Group members have spatial relationships as explained by positions within a communication network.


  • Each component of a system has a function that complements the other components.

  • Each member in a group has a role that complements other group roles.


  • Systems continuously transform through interactive processes.

  • Groups continuously transform as they interact.


  • System components depend on other components for proper functioning and replenishing.

  • Group members depend on other group members to fulfill their goals.


  • A system sustains and adapts through feedback: responses to input and output.

  • A group sustains and adapts through the cycle of interaction and feedback among its members.

(Bales, 1999; Fisher, A., 1974; Hare, A. Paul, 1962; Mabry, 1999)

Appendix F

OSIS/RAINS Background

OSIS is based on RAINS established Connect & Protect program, a wide area network project that connects schools, government agencies and other organizations in Portland, Oregon (Fisher, D., 2004). Connect & Protect program – a cooperative effort between RAINS and the City of Portland's Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) – allows the conveyance of real-time emergency information among more than 60 local public safety stakeholders including 911 centers, schools, hospitals, hotels, and banks. Alerts can be received through PCs, personal digital assistants or cellular phones (RAINS, 2004). BOEC was the first 9-1-1 Dispatch Center in the country to participate in this program. Oregon’s 9-1-1 center simultaneously implemented Connect & Protect with RAINS-Net in Portland, in August 2003. RAINS designed the program to be a “scalable, affordable model” (below) and therefore usable anywhere – locally or nationally in cities and rural areas.

RAINS began as a result of 9/11, 2001. Several Oregon companies united as Oregon RAINS, a regional emergency response network. RAINS grew to include more than 60 companies and six research universities by the time it deployed RAINS-Net in 2003 (Jackson, 2004).

Since then it has recruited agencies in two states, Virginia and Washington – RAINS is optimistic that OSIS will attract at least 10 states in the near future. Already it is the first “statewide system in the country that will be able to send emergency alerts securely online” (Robinson, 2003).

RAINS hopes that OSIS can become the nation’s prototype for sensitive information exchange (Robinson, 2004). Wyatt Starnes, co-founder of RAINS, confirmed that OSIS encourages the use of specialized Web Services and additional standards including XML, Common Alert Protocol, WS-Security, WS-Security Policy, WS-Trust, SAML – but it does not force users to follow specific form when implementing these services (What's next? 2004). RAINS believes its major advantage of OSIS is its non-proprietary approach – it can be used by both government and private organizations who need to share sensitive information without forgoing free market competition (ESRI, 2004; RAINS-Gauge, 2004). Currently, all government and first responder organizations using the RAINS-Net system are employing OSIS (What's next? 2004).

Appendix G

Homeland Security Act (2002)

Section 201: Directorate for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection

To review, analyze, and make recommendations for improvements in the policies and procedures governing the sharing of law enforcement information, intelligence information, intelligence-related information, and other information relating to homeland security within the Federal Government and between the Federal Government and State and local government agencies and authorities.

The major purpose of the Act was to establish the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) whose “primary mission is to protect our Homeland” (Bush, G. W., 2002). The DHS outlined seven priorities for completion in 2005. Priorities 1, 2, and 5 specifically address tactics to develop shareable information systems.

Priority 1

The DHS intends to establish a Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), a computer-based counterterrorism communications network designed to strengthen the two-way flow of threat information that will be available to all 50 states, 5 territories, Washington, D.C., and 50 other major urban areas. Its major function will be to prevent terrorist attacks, but it may also serve as a tool during crisis management. (DHS Press Office, 2004).

Priority 2

The DHS intends to initiate measures that will significantly improve interoperability among firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel who need to be in contact and share equipment during catastrophes.

Priority 5

The DHS intends to implement the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS will offer a “consistent nationwide template to enable federal, state, local and tribal governments and private-sector organizations to work together effectively to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from a terrorist attack or other major disaster“ (United States Department of Homeland Security, 2005).

1 Interestingly, there are 1.375 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. with 11 million meetings being held daily (Weitzel and Geist, 1998). In spite of this incredible number of meetings—and the importance of smooth information flow in and among EM organizations—public management organizations conduct few field studies in information flow.

2 Some historical accounts attribute the Library’s obliteration to Julius Caesar during the Roman civil war. While chasing the mutinous General Pompey, Caesar ordered his soldiers to burn the Egyptian fleet. Some accounts report that the fire spread into Alexandria and into the Library. Other accounts blame the destruction on a religious dispute around 391 A.D. Alexandrian Jews were attempting to burn down a Christian church when flames engulfed the nearby Library. The third rendition of the loss of the Library involves the Moslems who seized Alexandria in 640 A.D. Accusers blame the Moslem leader, Caliph Omar for burning all the books upon hearing that the Library contained “all the knowledge of the world.” Caliph Omar supposedly said about the Library’s holdings that “they will either contradict the Koran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous” (Chesser, 2005).

3 Attorney General John Ashcroft, who urged Congress during the aftermath of the 9/11 to expand governmental powers in order to fight terrorism more aggressively, instigated the legislation leading to the PATRIOT Act. The PATRIOT Act quickly became law October 21, 2001 without the customary consultation and hearings of Congressional committees. The PATRIOT Act expanded the authority of law enforcement agencies to allow access to records previously protected by open records laws. The PATRIOT Act, up for reenactment in 2005, made changes to many laws that can apply to library records and confidentiality. The amendments expanded the authority of law enforcement agencies. Agents can use wiretaps without making sure the target is actually using the phone to be tapped (Section 206). They can also access library circulation records, Internet use records, and registration information (electronic or printed) using gag orders and without demonstrating probable cause (Section 215). They can also monitor library computer use including Internet, email, IP addresses and Web page URLs (Section 216).

4 A group is a collection of at least three people who interact with each other, display interdependence, establish roles within an open communication system, have a sense of unity and identity, maintain norms, and share common motives or goals with the intention of making a decision (Brilhart, 1978; Ellis and Fisher, 1994; Hare, A. Paul, 1962; Harris and Sherblom, 2002).

5 Shannon & Weaver, 1947, Modified. Claude Shannon, a research scientist at Bell Telephone Company, attempted to maximize telephone line capacity with minimal distortion. He probably intended his mathematical theory of signal transmission for use with telephone technology only.

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