Information Sharing and Public Health: A Case-based Look at the ICT Expectations-Reality Gap
Pardo, T. A., Gil-Garcia, J. R., and Burke, G. B.
In Albert Meijer, Kees Boersma, Pieter Wagenaar (Eds.), ICTs, Citizens & Governance: After the Hype! .
Amsterdam: IOS Press. 2009. pp.180-197.
Sharing information across organizational boundaries is central to
efforts to improve government operations and services. However, creating the
capability necessary to enable information sharing across the boundaries of
organizations is among the most difficult types of information technology projects.
New knowledge about information sharing is required; in particular, new
understanding about how government, non-governmental and private sector
organizations come together to share information is necessary. This chapter draws
on the experiences of key actors in three states in the United States as they
organized to create new capability to share information as part of their responses to
the West Nile virus outbreaks. The cases highlight the gap between expectations
and reality, providing opportunity to more fully understand the gaps between
expectations (the hype) about ICTs and the reality facing government practitioners
who seek to use ICTs to share information. Examining the cases in terms of four
contexts of information integration and sharing provides a more specific
understanding about the gaps between these expectations and the reality (after the
hype). The lessons learned in the context of public health include the central role
of information sharing and the implications of resource constraints on data capture
and use capability in the context of an outbreak management and surveillance
effort. Insight into the interdependence of system design and process support and
improvement in the context of public health surveillance was also found to be
critical to future planning of public health surveillance systems. This chapter
serves to reemphasize to both researchers and practitioners the need to close the
gap between expectations and reality; the point is made again through the cases
that closing the gap depends on strategies that draw on technology, process,
interorganizational, and political perspectives and resources.
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