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Sources of uncertainty in Swedish emergency response planning


With the growing importance of enhancing modern society’s resilience, planning for critical infrastructure protection has become essential. However, such national planning must contend with many types of uncertainty. This paper characterises sources of uncertainty that are associated with a lack of knowledge, as exemplified by Swedish planning of emergency power supplies. The planning under investigation concerns civil protection from the negative effects of a power shortage. A decision process is intended to support this national strategic management goal by identifying and prioritising electricity consumers who are critical to society at the local, regional and national levels. The analysis of related documentation yields three sources of uncertainty (S) interrelated with this multi-level planning (MLP) for emergency response: (S1) the planning process in general, (S2) the decision-making process in particular and (S3) the direction and guidance alongside these processes. Interviews with decision-makers reveal a detailed specification of these sources of uncertainty. The results thus provide a solid basis for further goal-directed improvement of national MLP approaches. Moreover, this specification contributes to scholarly debate on the systemic effects of sources of uncertainty due to a lack of knowledge. Lastly, the findings constitute a thinking framework that is suggested as a foundation for analytical work in similar complex planning environments as well as for evidence-based communication to the wider public concerning risks and resilience.

Keywords: Critical infrastructure protection, public strategic management, multi-level planning, complex planning environment, decision process, emergency power supply


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