Supporting Decision Making

The joint decision model is designed to help commanders make effective decisions together. As they establish shared situational awareness, they can develop a common operating picture.

As part of this process, commanders and decision makers may need further support, skills and resources so they can assess and interpret the information they receive appropriately, before it influences the decisions they make.

The following section provides background information and some suggested methods to support decision making.

In many incidents there won’t be a need, or any time, for formal arrangements to be set up to support decision makers. But some incidents will be highly complex and strategically significant, involve considerable levels of uncertainty, have hard-to-predict consequences and unclear choices.

In these circumstances, it will be necessary to implement pre-established arrangements to manage information and support multi-agency decision-making at tactical and strategic levels.

9.1 Assesing and Managing Information


This section outlines the capabilities that responder agencies should establish to inform and support joint decision making. It covers the need to:

  • Assess information
  • Have common processes to report, assess and manage information consistently
  • Have a common information sharing platform, so that information can be shared and applied

9.2 Information Assessment


Assessing the information received, using proven criteria, will establish its quality and suitability for the task in hand. This is critical to ensure that decision-making is based on the best possible information and to identify where critical uncertainties lie.

In an emergency or crisis, much of the information decision makers receive will be unreliable or of uncertain quality. For that reason a framework is needed, to distinguish between:

  • Information that can be relied on with confidence
  • Information that is unreliable in some way
  • Information of unknown quality

There are many ways in which responder agencies can assess information. If agencies use the same information assessment framework, interoperability will be enhanced.

As a minimum, information should be assessed for:

  • Relevance – in the current situation, how well does the information meet the needs of the end user?
  • Accuracy – how well does the information reflect the underlying reality?
  • Timeliness – how current is the information?
  • Source reliability – does previous experience of this source indicate the likely quality of the information?
  • Credibility – is the information supported or contradicted by other information?

As they develop a common operating picture, decision makers need to work together, using their joint experience and judgement, when using an information assessment framework. This will ensure the information they are using is both suitable and adequate.

If decision makers are concerned or dissatisfied with the information assessment, they should issue clear direction and take steps to update, reconcile and check the information, or to seek further information, potentially drawing on other channels and sources.

The behaviour of individuals and teams, and the effectiveness of interaction, will either enable or impede them in developing shared situational awareness. Achieving shared situational awareness is more likely if people:

  • Share what they know freely
  • Make uncertainties and assumptions absolutely clear
  • Challenge their own understanding of what they are being told, and challenge the understanding of others
  • Are critical and rigorous

9.3 Common Processes


An organisation responding to a crisis or incident must:

  1. Gather relevant information about the incident
  2. Evaluate that informationin terms of quality and relevance
  3. Filter, analyse and make sense of that information
  4. Communicate the information inside their organisation, and outside if required
  5. Present the information to decision makers in an appropriate form

Interoperability will be enhanced if emergency responders use consistent ways of working to carry out these tasks.

 

9.4 Common Information Sharing Platform


A common information sharing platform is the means to share and manage information collaboratively to support joint decision-making. Any commonly understood, effective system can be described as a common information sharing platform.

There are considerable advantages to using an electronic system. For example, automating aspects of sourcing, combining, analysing and displaying data will be much more useful and efficient for those using the data collected.

The precise form of a common information sharing platform will reflect local requirements and existing capabilities, but responder organisations should consider ResilienceDirect, a widely-used and secure platform with a range of functions to support joint working. ResilienceDirect is provided to all responder agencies by the government.