End users - Key requirements of emergency decision makers

End user requirements form an essential component of the S-HELP holistic framework. Developing a Decision Support System (DSS) that will support and assist decision makers in mitigating and preparing for, responding to and recovering from a major emergency incident is the overarching objective of the project. It is therefore absolutely critical that the development of the DSS is informed and driven by the needs and requirements of end users.

Over 1,000 requirements have been identified and validated by interviews, end-user surveys and workshops. The S-HELP partners organised a workshop at the International METSZ Conference in Greece, and end-user workshops in Ireland and Israel. The findings extend current understandings of end user needs and support the development of user stories and experience maps for S-HELP's DSS.

Identifying requirements for an Emergency Management DSS
An overview of some of the methods used in engaging with end users is provided below:
An online survey was released to end users in May 2014. Discussions on requirements were also held with representatives of the French National Institute of Advanced Studies of Security and Justice (INDSJ). A mini end user workshop took place in Dublin in June 2014. The shortcomings of existing incident management systems already available on the market were reviewed and a gap analysis of what might be needed to address these shortcomings was carried out. A range of literature on emergency management and decision support systems were also reviewed as part of the requirements gathering exercise.

One of the most valuable requirements gathering exercises was presented when members of the S-HELP team were invited to observe a European Commission led emergency management training exercise held in Dublin in September 2014. In October 2014, the S-HELP team also held a workshop at international emergency management symposium in Greece, ‘METSZ. A special session entitled ‘Validating End User Requirements for a Decision Support Tool for Health Emergency Management’ afforded the S-HELP team the opportunity to present an overview of key requirements for the DSS and  get feedback on them. Finally, the S-HELP team led a learning café workshop in Tel Aviv, Israel in December 2014. This workshop with over 30 participants, including high level (strategic) representatives from the Ministry of Health and Emergency Department focused on four themes of emergency management that are important in developing the S-HELP DSS: scenarios, gaps, DSS, users and information sharing.

Understanding requirements
Requirements were identified for a wide range of aspects that will form key elements of the S-HELP DSS including requirements related to data, collaboration/knowledge sharing, intelligence, logistics, logging, risk communication, training, psychological factors, reporting and post evaluation. Requirements that were similar in nature were grouped together allowing for the creation of priority listings. In validating the legitimacy of requirements, it was interesting to note that there were strong commonalities in requirements identified from different sources, e.g. those identified through literature were not dissimilar to those identified through the end user questionnaires, or through end user interviews. Furthermore, there were no major variations or differences in the requirements identified by stakeholders or end users in different countries. In general, requirements identified did not tend to be unique to particular stages in the EM cycle or to particular levels in the decision making hierarchy.

Operationalising requirements within DSS development processes 
The requirements identified to date have been used to support end user profiling and the development of experience maps and DSS Capability Maps. Exercises such as the creation of the capability map above will continue to be undertaken in ensuring that end user requirements for the DSS are understood and incorporated to design processes.

End user consultation will continue to be carried out at various junctures to support the ongoing development and prototyping of the S-HELP DSS. The views of emergency management personnel are always welcome – if you have any ideas or suggestions that you think we should consider in the ongoing development of the S-HELP DSS, please drop us a line at info@s-help.eu

Thursday, April 16, 2015