The concept of shared services is high on the political agenda throughout the European Union and is a priority for both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. Although much of the impetus for collaboration on the sharing of services amongst local authorities is derived from financial constraints and declining public resources, the necessity for neighbouring authorities to work together to tackle common challenges is particularly apparent in relation to emergency planning. Indeed, emergency planning has consistently been identified in ICLRD research and focus groups as one of the frontline/specialised services offering greatest potential for local government in developing and delivering on a shared service agenda. Collaborating on emergency planning on a cross-border basis through the creation of a connected and resilient approach to civil emergencies can bring mutual benefits to citizens within the border region.
ICLRD is working closely with the All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO) and the Cross Border Emergency Management Working Group (CBEMWG) to progress an emergency planning pilot initiative under the Shared Services thread of the Cross-Border Spatial Planning and Training Network (CroSPlaN II) programme. The pilot is focused on the development of a proof of concept mapping tool displaying datasets on the location of key facilities for emergency planning, centred on the Southern and Western Environmental Health Group areas for Northern Ireland and the North West and East Major Emergency Management Regional Working Groups for Ireland. In addition to the mapping tool, ICLRD is researching best practice from other jurisdictions on the development and capabilities of such tools and their functioning on a cross-border basis. It is the intention that the mapping tool and associated research can assist local partners to work up joint proposals for the establishment of a more extensive and professionally hosted system.