ICT-Enabled Co-production for Better Emergency Response


  • Wael Alkusaibati Department of Science and technology, Linköping University
  • Sofie Pilemalm Department of Science and technology, Linköping University




ICT-enabled co-production is a research phenomenon that refers to a digitally enabled form of collaboration between formal public-service producers and external partners (usually citizens). The concept demonstrates unprecedented benefits to formal authorities in terms of finding optimized solutions to public services provision that are cost-efficient, legitimate, and effective. Yet, co-production started to earn prevalence in academia in the last two decades due to the developments in information and communication technologies (ICT), specifically WEB 2.0 applications. In the realm of emergency response, ICT-enabled co-production with volunteers is proving a critical necessity by increasing the readiness of formal responders and thus saving lives and resources. All that is in light of strained resources and increased emergencies, whether natural or man-made. For that purpose, we conducted a literature review study to understand how the phenomenon is addressed in academia. However, because the phenomenon is inadequately discovered, we adopted a grounded-theory-oriented approach to establishing data gathering and analysis. Hence, we soon concluded that this digitally enabled collaboration with citizens takes two different shapes: 1- digital volunteerism in large-scale crises (more extensive among studies and focuses on spontaneous volunteerism), and 2- ICT-enabled co-production in frequent emergency response, e.g., house fries, car accidents (less discoursed and takes more organized and coordinated fashion). Therefore, we expanded the scope over these two shapes to explore their opportunities and challenges. As a result, we came across similarities and differences in terms of enablers and barriers, such as the degree of “needed” official intervention, legal framing, technological support, etc. Most importantly, we discovered that ICT-enabled co-production (even though officially supported) still lacks a more apparent legal definition and more sophisticated technologies. On the other hand, we explored that digital volunteerism (even though bottom-up established by volunteers) becomes more recognized and takes different extents of organization with regular responders. Finally, inspired by the results, we draw out the lines for future tracks to conceptualize the phenomenon in order to 1- explore its importance and limitations in micro settings (local incidents) and 2- to understand how digitalized co-production can be utilized under more hazardous circumstances, such as wartime and civil defense.