What should define a Multi Agency Information Cell?

Why the gripping headline?

I’m not sure I’m getting the hang of writing click-bait headlines. But this is a significant question for some people. And some of those people read this blog.

What’s it all about?

Version 2 of the JESIP doctrine has been published for consultation. JESIP is the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme and the JESIP Doctrine lays out how the emergency services should work together around major incidents.

Though JESIP is about the emergency services the doctrine actually affects hundreds more organisations because they (local authorities, heath bodies, utility companies and so on) have a duty to work with the emergency services (and each other) to sort out emergencies.

The original JESIP doctrine was pretty clear and sensible. Version 2 builds on these pragmatic and sensible foundations but adds in a couple of years of learning since the original. You can see the draft JESIP Doctrine here.

Get to the point Ben

Section 5 of the draft doctrine covers Information Assessment and Management. It touches on a range of things that will be of interest to people in my network (like essentially recommending ResilienceDirect as the way you should exchange data).

Section 5.4 issues a “Framework for Information Assessment” which is really saying “let’s be consistent in when talking about how reliable information is”. The question of how you assess the reliability of publicly available information (like reports on social media) is something VOST and Digital Humanitarian groups have some considerable expertise in.

Most exciting is section 5.5 which mandates a Multi-Agency Information Cell. This is a dashed good idea. In fact many people might think it sounds rather like a Virtual Operational Support Team (or VOST). In the current draft though the MAIC does seem a bit inward looking, pooling the geographic data that agencies have.

This sparked a bit of a discussion on Twitter and I said I would fire something up to see if we can get some sort of consensus from the VOST/BlueLight and possible CrisisMapping community.


The consultation is open to anyone to respond. responses have to be sent in a fairly structured way (using an Excel spreadsheet – I’ll park the discussion on the use of open formats for a more appropriate time). So anyone can (and probably should) respond in their own right.


I’d really appreciate the insight of the wider digital and emergencies community specifically on the sections about the Framework for Information Assessment and the Multi-Agency Information Cell. I’ve pulled those sections (and only those sections) into a Google Doc.


3 replies on “What should define a Multi Agency Information Cell?”

  1. Ben. These two items (5.4 and 5.5) are exciting to review. I’d point you to a few exemplary documents to cross reference and maybe pull pieces from:
    – DHS S&T VSMWG From Concept to Reality: Operationalizing Social Media for Preparedness, Response and Recovery http://www.firstresponder.gov/TechnologyDocuments/VSMWG%20-%20From%20Concept%20to%20Reality%20-%20Operationalizing%20Social%20Media.pdf
    – ESF #15: Annex R: Digital and Social Media http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/965d87d8c5ffc4bcccb01979913e01fc/ESF15_SOP_08-30-2013-02.pdf
    – Fairfax County, “ Social Media Policy & Guidelines for Official Accounts”. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/opa/fairfax-county-social-media-policy.pdf

    In addition, as an operations process focused person, I’d encourage development of protocols and decision support tools that reflect the current (or new) business practices that fulfill these mandates, for instance:
    – Information Flow Protocol that identifies the different kind of information and provides routing/handling instructions through to final disposition
    – Data Collection Plan template
    – Response assessment decision support tool to help determine whether and how to respond to social posts of all natures directed at official organizations.

    All I can come up with this evening. Cheers, Jeff

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