Access and Fairness

Creating a CIS means creating a collaborative space where differing partners use, contribute to and access its resources. In some cases, the rights to each of these actions need to be regulated (for example, when potential public or private partners are not guided by the same interests or codes of ethics). It is important that care is taken when such regulations are applied so that they do not erode equality, non-discrimination, diversity, neutrality and inclusiveness.

Guiding Questions

Are access restrictions necessary and how can they best be implemented?
Whose role is it to implement and safeguard access restrictions?
What happens if someone involved in disaster risk management needs information but does not have access to the information?
What if the CIS becomes predominantly populated with data/links that are restricted so it does not enable sharing or collaboration?
What if someone who contributes data cannot access anyone else’s data?
Do stakeholders’ access rights change between planning and response?

Further Information

It is important that regulation and the reasons for it are clear. This requires those managing a CIS to think through who should be contributing and accessing information. These considerations should also address meta-data associated with each unit of data. Different barriers in relation to access and equity emerge, especially considering the range of potential public and private partners, with malleable relationships that do not share interests or codes of ethics. Regulating contributions and access to a CIS should take into consideration equality, including non-discrimination, diversity, neutrality, inclusiveness. How these issues are managed will affect the shape of vulnerability and justice.


A recent report by the Overseas Development Institute identifies a range of factors that make more inclusive approaches to disaster risk management necessary and worthwhile:

  • Certain groups are particularly vulnerable to disasters: they include people marginalised by gender, age, ethnicity and disability. The root causes of their vulnerability lie in their position in society.
  • The needs of such groups are often overlooked by disaster managers, and their voices are rarely heard. There should be more planning with them, not simply for them.
  • Women’s skills, technical knowledge and coping capacities are a valuable resource for risk reduction, which should be utilised more extensively.
  • Disasters can be used as opportunities to empower women and make significant changes in gender relationships.
  • Older people’s knowledge and experience of previous disasters can be put to good use in risk reduction.
  • Children and young people should be given more opportunities to present their views of their environment and their needs.
  • Institutions such as schools and nurseries can provide a focus for a range of mitigation activities benefiting both children and the community as a whole.
  • A number of simple, inexpensive steps can be taken to reduce the physical vulnerability of elderly and disabled people.
  • Inclusive, non-discriminatory approaches are needed to overcome minority groups’ vulnerability.

These and other groups may have valuable information, but lack access to the special secure communications equipment of rescue organizations. CIS infrastructures can support efforts to review and alter topologies of inclusion and exclusion.


EDPS. (2015). European Data Protection Supervisor: Opinion 4/2015: Towards a new digital ethics [Link
Kuhnert, M., Wietfeld, C., Paterour, O., Georgiev, A., Petersen, K., Büscher, M., and Pottebaum, J. (n.d.). Next Generation, Secure Cloud-based Pan-European Information System for Enhanced Disaster Awareness [Link]
Pelling, M. (2007). Learning from others: the scope and challenges for participatory disaster risk assessment. Disasters, 31(4): 373–385 [DOI]
Tierney, K. (2011). Social inequality, hazards, and disasters. In Daniels, R.J., Kettl, D.F. and Kunreuther, H. (eds.) On risk and disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. University of Pennsylvania Press: 109-128 [Link]
Twigg, J. (2004). Disaster risk reduction: mitigation and preparedness in development and emergency programming. Humanitarian Practice Network, Overseas Development Institute [Link]

Related Key Terms