Capability and Command Systems Development

FOI works on the development of capability and systems for command and control in the context of civil emergency planning and emergency preparedness.

What we work with

The field of capability and command and control system development is a broad one and it cover a large number of sub-areas in which approaches depend on cultural factors, that is to say that how well an approach works may be dependent on the culture that applies. Some of the key areas here are activity analysis, requirement management, system architec­ture, system procurement and the assess­ment of capabilities. At FOI the aspects we work with include:

  • Activity analysis, in order to study and describe how an activity functions and to gain an under­standing of how well something functions in the event, is an important factor in the development of the activity.
  • Needs analysis in order identify, document and communicate those requirements that it is important to satisfy in the development.
  • Requirements management in order to identify, document and communicate those requirements that are to be specified for the system which is to be developed or purchased.
  • System architecture in order to describe how the system, which is to be developed or purchased, should be designed.
  • System acquisition in order to create a process for the systematic acquisition of systems irrespective of whether these systems are to be developed or whether the choice is to purchase existing systems, so-called off-the-shelf solutions.
  • Assessment of capabilities in order to analyse which capabilities (command and control, operational and other capabilities) an activity either possesses or will possess after modification.

There is a continuing need to develop and maintain society’s ability to prevent and deal with accidents and crisis situations. Experience gained from earlier incidents such as, for example, the terrorist attack on Bali, the SARS epidemic, major power black-outs in the United States and the disruption of gas supplies to a number of European countries, show that society’s capability for emergency preparedness and crisis management cannot remain static. The capability of society to prevent and manage accidents and crisis situations must be continuously developed and adjusted both in the long term over time and in response to situations that arise without warning. A society therefore needs to have expertise in the development of capability, how new capabilities can be developed and introduced while existing capabilities are adjusted and irrelevant capabilities are phased out.   

This means that development of capabilities in emergency preparedness and crisis management should cover

  1. the scaling and build-up of capacity over time, and
  2. the matching of response measures to the resources available and to the requirements of the situation.

The development and maintenance of desired capabilities in a complex sociotechnical system which in this case has to embrace emergency preparedness, crisis manage­ment and civil defence, represents a challenge involving many difficulties which have to be overcome.

Capability development takes as its starting point those capabilities that are needed rather than the technology and competence that is available. Capability development in emergency prepared­ness and the safety and security of society spans a number of different dimensions and covers, among other things, ensuring that properly trained personnel are available in the right numbers and with the right equipment. The complexity of evolving socio­technical systems means that capability development in such systems is best based on computer modelling. Model-based capability development has been proposed for the management of capabilities in complex socio­technical systems involved in time-critical activities. The purpose of a model-based approach to capability develop­ment is to increase the traceability of the system’s capabilities giving visibility to the linkages between capabilities, units and resources. Such traceability simplifies the analysis of capabilities since all resources (e.g. the emergency services) and their interrelation­ships are described on a common basis.

Command and control systems are complex socio­technical systems involving, for example, human, organisational, method-related, technical, legal, financial and political aspects.  This means that command and control system development has to be conducted from an overall perspective taking into account the complex interplay between man, technology and organisation (MTO).

The development of a smoothly functioning command and control system which covers emergency prepared­ness and the safety and security of society, and which also incorpo­rates the desired management capa­bilities, is a continuous process. Today’s and tomorrow’s command and control systems are becoming progressively more comprehensive with the requirement that they must be capable of coordination with other command and control systems and other actors that are not always known in advance. The overall result is thus often more fragmented which in turn makes it more difficult to specify the right requirements for the development of effective command and control systems with the right management capabilities.

The purpose of the command and control system is to make use of available resources to deal with different types of situation in order to achieve the aim of the action being taken. Command and control embodies a range of different activities, for example the allocation of tasks and resources, the coordination of ongoing activities, dealing with conflicting aims and planning. Command and control of measures in response to accidents and crises also covers coordinating and combining various capabilities and identifying those resources – both available and possible – which are required to realise those capabilities.


Last updated: 2020-10-14