Concepts on Information Sharing and Interoperability

by John M. Contestabile

There are hundreds of thousands of “incidents” of various types that occur every day in the United States. Those incidents range from simple/frequent events – e.g., automobile accidents, train derailments, thefts, and various types of weather incidents – to catastrophic/infrequent events such  as the 9/11 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Minnesota I-35W bridge collapse, and the massive 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The number of participants and quantities of resources required to respond and recover from those incidents, and the complexity of the responders’ roles and responsibilities, are significantly greater and much more difficult for what would be considered a catastrophic incident than they would be for a simpler and more common “everyday” incident.

Understanding the information needs between these different scales of incidents will provide valuable insights into how various agencies and jurisdictions can better design their information systems – primarily because how these systems are designed directly correlates to the ability to share information across agencies, political jurisdictions, and professional disciplines. Simply put, the design determines the systems’ "level of interoperability."

In “Concepts on Information Sharing and Interoperability,” John Contestabile, Assistant Program Manager for Homeland Protection for the Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Lab, addresses the all-hazards operational incident response and the implications for information sharing. He then proposes a conceptual framework, based on three layers of responsibility – data, integration, and presentation – to improve interoperability.

Click here to download the full white paper, Concepts on Information Sharing & Interoperability