Comment of Note
It comes from our very first comment ever and was offered by Dean Siebold in response to this post. Says Dean:
There are many good points here. Let me start with the allegiance question. My post was ultimately aspirational. One of the aims of this blog is to look at where we are in doctrine and thought and to help massage those to create a stronger culture for PIOs within the IMT world and to provide an understanding of PIO work and stresses to those outside of incident response--to include agency leadership. The reason I like Sandman's approach is that it provides an easily understood way to communicate the differences and assert the rationale for a PIO as distinct from PAOs and PR types. If we can't describe what makes PIOs different, how can we expect ourselves and others (both within the response community and outside it) to both see and understand the difference? If PIOs cannot stake out a place that is their own, others will demand they be in a different place.
The culture since my first PIO years, where we were thought of as buffers for the IMT, lessers, and annoyances, has changed greatly for the better. Yet we all agree the potential has not been met. And it won't be until we identify what sets us apart and continually show the critical work we do.
On the communications and intel front, we are quite possibly in the very worst of worlds right now. We can clearly see the problems that need to be addressed and we clearly see the possibilities of addressing those problems, but the capacity and capabilities aren't quite there yet. It's like the PC market when I was writing my MA thesis on a Compaq portable long ago. A 2011 study in the journal Science showed that the rate of change of the world's capacity to compute information is roughly 60% more than possibly could have been executed by all existing general-purpose computers in the year before. If that number is still holding, we are on an exponential curve and you have to believe that the technology will be cheaper and more ubiquitous soon.
But that poses new challenges. How do we drink from that firehose of data? How do we make sense of it? What is really important? How do we communicate it? What do we do with an "outraged local" who misinterprets some of that data? What happens when something goes wrong and a lawyer makes a case based on a data point instead of the big picture that led to critical decisions? Will we need to reconfigure IMT positions to account for both the data increase and the sense-making of that data? It will certainly demand a an increase in capital to get us where we need to be.
I think firefighting is still more art based on experience than science but there are a lot of forces trying to drive us to science and data acquisition and automation are but two. We will have to be measured in how we reach the admirable future you describe.
Thanks for the comment. If we ever end up in camp together, I'll carry your salad.
Copyright © Jim Whittington, 2018, All rights reserved. Academic use approved with notification and attribution.
Occasional thoughts on incident response, crisis communications, wildland fire, and other topics.
Docendo disco, scribendo cogito.
Blog DOB: 4/26/2018
Copyright © Jim Whittington, 2019.