Command and Control in Emergency Services Operations: a Social Network Analysis

Robert Houghton, Christopher Baber, Richard McMaster, NA Stanton, P Salmon, R Stewart, Guy H. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

126 Citations (Scopus)


There is increasing interest in the use of social network analysis as a tool to study the performance of teams and organizations. In this paper, processes of command and control in the emergency services are explored from the perspective of social network theory. We report a set of network analyses (comprising visualization, a selection of mathematical metrics, and a discussion of procedures) based on the observation of six emergency service incidents: three fire service operations involving the treatment of hazardous chemicals, and three police operations involving immediate response to emergency calls. The findings are discussed in terms of our attempts to categorize the network structures against a set of extant command and control network archetypes and the relationship between those structures; comments on the qualities the networks display are put into the contexts of the incidents reported. We suggest that social network analysis may have a valuable part to play in the general study of command and control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1204-1225
Number of pages22
Issue number12-13
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2006


  • teams
  • social networks
  • command and control
  • emergency response


Dive into the research topics of 'Command and Control in Emergency Services Operations: a Social Network Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this