Digital transformation in civil emergency response: Study shows need for action

Survey participants from the fire departments, aid organizations and technical relief agency are dissatisfied with the digital development in their organizations. This is the result of a study on digital transformation in civil emergency response, which the Paderborn safety innovation center e.V. conducted on behalf of the German Fire Protection Association (GFPA). According to the respondents, digitization in civil emergency response is to be promoted.
More than half of the survey participants have the impression that the topic of digital transformation is “never” or “rather rarely” discussed in their organization. Around 95 percent see the need to (rather) push ahead with the digital transformation within their own organization. The use of social media channels is relatively widespread, with such networks being used primarily for more everyday tasks of citizen communication and less for situation awareness and communication can be used in larger operational situations.
The use of private devices and software for civil security purposes is also widespread, as 62 percent of those surveyed stated. More than 40 percent even use private hardware or software on a daily basis, mainly because corresponding equipment is not available in their institution.
“In the view of the study participants, comprehensive interfaces for compatible IT systems and hardware are seen as necessary, among other things,” explains Torben Sauerland, one of the authors of the study. The respondents see obstacles to the digital transformation as, among other things, a lack of financial resources, complex procurement processes and a lack of IT competence. Possible options for action identified in a workshop on the study included improving the accessibility of the IT market for civil emergency response, model regions with pilot operations and centralized support.
“The study must be an urgent reminder for all of us to press ahead intensively with digitization in emergency response so that we as emergency services can meet the challenges of the future,” says GFPA President Dirk Aschenbrenner about the results. “The number of cases and the severity of incidents are increasing – key words are forest fires and storms. But the Corona pandemic also shows us how much and where digitalization is lacking.
The online survey involved around 650 participants, mainly from the fire department, aid organizations and technical relief agency. The study was supported by the SafeInno Foundation and the Björn Steiger Foundation. #blaulichtdigital
All results and the complete study are available at

Image source: safety innovation center gGmbH