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Turning to Digital Government in a Crisis: Coordinating Government's Response to the World Trade Center Attacks


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On the morning of September 11, 2001, two hijacked jetliners flew into the upper floors of World Trade Towers in New York. Thousands died; tens of thousands were evacuated from Lower Manhattan. When the towers collapsed, the 16-acre heart of New York's financial district lay in complete ruin.

Government decision-makers were faced with unprecedented problems, and responded with creative, often unorthodox, solutions. Available evidence indicates that information technology helped them cope with and respond to the multiple crises and ongoing recovery demand that resulted from the attack.

This research into what government agencies did in the midst of these crises, and the role of IT in the events, can provide valuable lessons for improving crisis response and emergency management and planning. Equally important, the lessons learned from how government responded to this emergency may benefit overall government operations in normal times.