The Time-Critical Information Services (TCIS) research project is a multi-year, NSF funded project conducted by researchers from Claremont Graduate University
What is TCIS
The concept of Time-Critical Information Services (TCIS) refers to information systems and services that support end-to-end, inter-organizational improvement of time-critical public service delivery (e.g. emergency medical services, homeland security, emergency management).
While private sector oriented information systems research has focused on the critical role of information technology in achieving Just-in-Time (JIT) delivery and improved supply-chain management (SCM) and enterprise performance management (EPM), similar attention is needed to those public sector services that are also highly time and information dependent. There has been a paucity of research in this domain. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) represents an illustrative application domain of JIT in public services and e-government, where in the adage "time is money" translates into "time is lives."
But the service is not just time-dependent, it is information-dependent as well - this information can include locational data on the caller's address, accident data on the nature of the injury, or health data on biological constitution (e.g., blood type) of the injured party. It can also include information used by various agencies to guide service operation and performance. The challenge for information and computer sciences is to devise new approaches and systems that facilitate rapid use of accurate information for time-critical use in EMS and related governmental services.
The TCIS Framework
The Time-Critical Information Services (TCIS) research framework was developed by Claremont Graduate University researchers through multiple phases of research including an expert workshop hosted by the Center for Digital Government, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, visit the web site at www.cgu.edu/tcisworkshop. The workshop allowed for framework refinement by emergency response practitioners and academicians. The framework has been applied to case study analyses of real-world EMS systems in San Mateo, CA and Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN and has provided a foundation for ongoing research activities. The framework can be found below including short explanations of each component. For a PDF version of the frameworks, click here.
- The time and information critical elements of the service process
The first concept focuses on the time and information critical aspects of the service process. In the case of EMS, time is measured in minutes and seconds and these differences can have pronounced impact on heath condition and survivability. One of the key challenges of governmental services is that information travels serially and sequentially, from one processing unit to the next, often with time-consuming feedback loops when incomplete or inaccurate information is detected. For EMS, information mistakes can be tragic, as when an ambulance is unable to find the victim due to inaccurate location information about the scene of an incident.
- Inter-organizational linkages that include both qualitative organizational elements as well as "hard" information flow elements
This concept focuses in on the formal and informal inter-organizational relationships and how they affect and are affected by information exchanges across agencies and organizations. New technologies can be developed and implemented to enhance organizational performance, but raises the question about how well these technologies and systems affect the inter-organizational linkages, relationships, and information exchanges.
- End-to-End elements that consider performance metrics within and across the process flow
Measuring effectiveness across organizations (end-to-end performance) is essential to understanding how public services are delivered to the public, the level of service (timeliness, quality) that they are delivered, and how the network can be improved to deliver better services in an information-critical and time-critical manner. The challenge is how to implement this "end-to-end" concept within and across emergency provider organizations.
- Context variation elements such as normal versus peak conditions (in terms of service demand)
End-to-end performance is not only a function of system processes but also a function of exogenous occurrences such as storms, natural disasters, or terrorist attacks. A critical aspect of this concept is the ability of first responders to ramp-up rapidly and effectively. A more comprehensive understanding about the variable demand on emergency response systems could provide valuable insight, including the role of new, innovative information systems during normal and peak conditions.