Justifying Exclusion

Over-sharing can have detrimental effects. It can trigger unwanted consequences through disclosure and affect trust among stakeholders. In such cases, it is important to consider whether controlling access, or even excluding particular stakeholders, might wield more benefits than disadvantages for the goals at hand.

Guiding Questions

What are the motivations and benefits of excluding a stakeholder from the CIS? Do they outweigh the disadvantages?
If exclusions are implemented, how do they take into consideration legitimacy concerns or power imbalances?

Further Information

Exclusion needs to be considered both at the level of data access and at the level of system architecture. Blanket sharing and access to all groups could be highly problematic because of the potential for compromised information and conflict. In particular, providing access to the public, the media, volunteer groups, or even NGOs can be an issue of great concern among emergency managers. Furthermore, including groups that are seen to warrant different levels of trust could undermine trust within the whole of the CIS and the information it provides. At the same time, it is important that a CIS is not set up in ways that routinely excludes potential stakeholders and local knowledge, as that could inscribe discrimination and injustice. Also, excluding publics can generate mistrust and increase public activism.

At the level of architecture, since a CIS, by nature, has to function on some sort of taxonomy and classification system, its ordering structures have the potential to sort responders and the public into specific categories of action, privilege, and responsibility in ways that might not work in every locale and context (social sorting). Standards can also make it difficult to see how to include a new stakeholder that does not cleanly fit into the present standards of practice, potentially leading to their exclusion and distrust. By consistently favouring one set of values/framings/voices over others, the system risks perpetuating value imbalances. Hence it is important to be aware and reflect on such risks and account for any exclusions and their resulting disadvantages and to allow enough flexibility in the system to be able to exclude and include unforeseen stakeholders.

But trust and sense of relevance need a certain amount of structure to consistently emerge. While there is a need for bottom-up type interactions that acknowledge and engage with the local and national differences, there is also a need to provide some framework through which to exclude and include different stakeholders in ways that can encourage trust by their engagement with the system.


Flood risks arise from the activities of multiple stakeholders and their diverse interests and practices, from land use planning departments to commercial housing developers to citizens buying or renting property, from water utilities providers to nature conservationists, from transport developers to agriculture, from the flora and fauna in a watershed to the topography. Old technocratic models wittingly or unwittingly exclude some stakeholders or neglect to represent their interests in the development of water infrastructures and disaster planning. This excludes information that is highly decision-relevant (Vojinović & Abbott 2012)


Bannon, L. and Bødker, S. (1997). Constructing Common Information Spaces. In J. Hughes (Ed.), Proceedings of the Fifth European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (pp. 81–96). Kluwer. [Link]
Turner, W., Bowker, G., Gasser, L., and Zacklad, M. (2006). Information Infrastructures for Distributed Collective Practices. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 15(2–3): 93–110. [DOI] [Link]
Vojinović, Z., and Abbott, M. B. (2012). Flood risk and social justice: from quantitative to qualitative flood risk assessment and mitigation. London: IWA Publishing.

Related Key Terms