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Editorial pointers

Editorial Pointers


The ferocious effects of Mother Nature, most notably in the form of Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami, have motivated a growing legion of practitioners and researchers to rethink, and react, to the role IT plays and should play to enhance emergency response and crisis management.

Natural disasters—hurricanes, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and more—can have sweeping consequences and often require large-scale evacuations. Getting the needed medical assistance and information in and out of the affected areas can be an overwhelming task often fraught with danger. Technological support in the form of emergency response information systems (ERIS) can greatly enrich these efforts and most experts in the field agree an overhaul of its practices and processes is long overdue.

This month's special section presents the current state of ERIS through a series of articles that examine new trends and technologies introduced since the Katrina and tsunami disasters. It is fitting this project was spirited by two of the leading voices in ERIS reform: Bartel Van de Walle and Murray Turoff, who invited experts in this growing discipline to discuss some of the latest advances in ERIS, as well as in systems that may be applied ahead of potential disasters, such as a possible avian flu pandemic. The articles note the effectiveness of applying decision support systems, ICT-based support, agent technology, public warning systems, and global discovery management. Above all is the need to strengthen the lines of communication and information availability.

Thomas Horan and Benjamin Schooley add to the emergency response discussion, focusing on time-critical information services. They contend emergency medical services represent an application domain of just-in-time public services, where "time is lives."

What makes a good technology leader a great one? Stephen Andriole examined an exhaustive amount of survey data about business, technology, and management practices and found seven distinct leadership skills that distinguish the most effective technology chiefs. James Hall and Stephen Liedtka analyze the deeper implications of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for corporate IT departments, particularly in terms of large-scale IT outsourcing. And Scott McCoy et al. examine how pop-up, pop-under, and banner ads have a direct impact on consumer retention. At a time when more advertising dollars are going toward online ads than ever before, these findings are the first steps in understanding how these ads influence consumer behavior.

In this month's "Viewpoint," Barr, Bishop, and Gondree contend that unless and until e-voting standards are fully spelled out (hopefully with the active participation of computer scientists), the integrity and accuracy of the voting process will always be at risk. Also, on page 26, we announce the names of latest ACM Fellows.

Diane Crawford
Editor


©2007 ACM  0001-0782/07/0300  $5.00

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