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Call for Papers: Ethical, Legal and Social Issues of IT Supported Emergency Response

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CONFERENCE THEME: Empowering Citizens and Communities through Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management
Conference Dates: May 18-21 2014
Penn State University, USA

TRACK: ELSI: Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues of IT Supported Emergency Response

Introduction to the track

This track explores critical ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) and innovative responses in practice, policy, and IT design with a view to emergent technology for crisis response and management.

Emergent technologies such as dedicated Emergency Management Information Systems (EMIS), cloud computing, mesh networking, mobile and wearable devices, environmental sensors, drones, robots, decision support systems, information visualization, social network and big data analytics can support more agile and better coordinated response and, as highlighted by the conference theme, approaches that engage citizens and communities more effectively in all phases of crisis management and the co-creation of services.

At the same time, challenging ethical, legal and social concerns arise. In a situation of crisis, decision-makers are likely to face complex ethical judgments under great uncertainty, time pressure, and heightened public scrutiny. Information technologies can ease, but also exacerbate these pressures. Crises can trigger exceptions to normal rules and even suspend democratic processes. Information systems can extend the reach and depth of such exceptions, for example through unprecedented possibilities of collecting, processing and sharing of personal data. Such processing may violate people’s privacy or lead to ‘false positives’; it may become difficult to both institute and ‘roll back’ interoperability between ‘smart city’, ‘e-government’, ‘e-healthcare’ and crisis management information systems and information sharing practices. ‘Empowering citizens and communities’ with the support of information systems does not come without dangers, for example of raising expectations, and of strengthening old and creating new digital divides. Co-creation of services can introduce new responsibilities, liabilities and frictions between governmental, professional, volunteer and citizen responders. Legal regulations are needed, but their complexity may be overwhelming and prevent actors from sharing data when they could effectively and legitimately do so. At a societal level, new capabilities of information processing have raised concerns over a creeping ‘securitization’ of everyday life.

We invite practitioner reports, academic papers, and demonstrations of technologies that address ethical, legal and social opportunities and challenges of IT supported crisis management in all phases. The aim should be to enhance understanding of the promises, premises and risks involved, and to inform constructive socio-technical innovation.

Track topics

  • Data sharing, data protection, transformations of privacy
  • Privacy by design, design for privacy, privacy preserving technologies
  • Cloud computing - availability, resilience, capacity, security
  • IT supported logging and professional integrity
  • Technology dependence, technology failure and liability
  • Digital divides and exclusion: citizens, non-citizens, communities, responders
  • Proactive law, IT support for reasoning about and negotiation of legitimacy, transparency and accountability
  • Open Data, OpenStack, Open Source
  • Opportunities and challenges of ‘service co-creation’ and ‘crisis informatics' and volunteering, including liability
  • Societal issues such as surveillance/sousveillance, militarization of everyday life, culture of fear
  • Comparative studies of ELSI in different countries

Track Chair and Co-Chairs

Monika Buscher*, Senior Lecturer, Mobilities.Lab, Lancaster University,

Catherine Easton, Law School, Lancaster University,

Michael Liegl, Senior Research Fellow, Mobilities.Lab, Lancaster University,

Caroline Rizza, Associate Professor, Telecom Paristech, Paris,

Hayley Watson, Associate Partner at Trilateral Research & Consulting, London.

Zeno Franco, Assistant Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine, Clinical & Translational Science Institute, Community Engagement Key Function, Medical College of Wisconsin,

*Corresponding Chair

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