Enhancing the use of ResilienceDirect in the Covid-19 response: a comparative analysis of Local Resilience Forums

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Business and Economics

Abstract

The project will explore and enhance how the ResilienceDirect (RD) digital collaboration platform is used by multi-agency Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) to remotely plan and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LRFs are an integral component of the COVID-19 response as they enable multiple local (e.g. police, NHS, local authorities) and national agencies (e.g. Public Health England, Environment Agency) to work with central government departments to develop shared situational awareness, joint decision-making and collaborative forms of learning and knowledge sharing. They provide a vital function to enable an integrated emergency response as multi-agency co-ordination failures have often weakened previous emergency responses. During the COVID-19 response, the requirement for remote working means this collaboration is to a greater extent occurring digitally within the RD digital platform, produced by the Cabinet Office. Given the scale and complexity of COVID-19 response, the challenge of multi-agency working, and the shift toward digital collaboration, it is vital that LRFs fully understand how to overcome significant potential barriers in how multiple agencies can work together within and between LRFs. The project will explore two key barriers within and between LRFs.

First, within LRFs, although RD can enable rapid information sharing and decision-making, if RD does not align with the interests of multiple LRF user agencies it can generate barriers to their collaboration. The project will examine how RD enhances or undermines collaboration between LRF agencies by exploring the interaction between the various human and technological actors that deliver digital collaboration.

Second, between LRFs, it is well known that different LRFs organise their responses on RD differently but no evidences exists as to why these differences exist or their outcomes. Further, these differences generate significant opportunities for learning in the dynamics of digital collaboration yet that learning remains tacit and not shared. This project will render this learning accessible between LRFs by comparing and explaining the differences and similarities between how LRFs use RD to enable collaboration. This analysis will then inform 'best practice' proposals in digital collaboration which will be shared and refined with LRF users through the 'Learning and Development' section of RD.

By exploring digital collaboration during the COVID-19 response, the research will produce the first independent evidence base for LRF practitioners, national policymakers, and scholars, to understand how RD is being used to facilitate LRF collaboration. This research will provide timely, cyclical feedback on the effective use of RD to support multi-agency collaboration. This project is designed to deliver immediate impact to improve the strength of the UK's integrated response to COVID-19 as well as critical insights into the role of digital technology in facilitating emergency collaborations that will benefit future responses.

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