E-government support for people in crisis: An evaluation of police department website support for domestic violence survivors using "person-in-situation" information need analysis

Lynn Westbrook
2008 Library & Information Science Research  
The crisis of intimate partner violence (IPV) requires a comprehensive array of government services in law enforcement, health, and social services. Impacting over 5 million victims in the U.S. annually, the beating, rape, stalking, assault, and other abuse of IPV force survivors to face multiple points of crisis. Repeatedly, most of these individuals move through separate dynamic situations that require different types of information. Building from the research literature on IPV survivors'
more » ... riences, this paper presents an original four-part framework of the Everyday Life Information Seeking (ELIS) information needs of IPV survivors. Using the person-in-progressive-situation approach of ELIS, this framework delineates 16 concrete information needs which occur throughout the four points of change: considering leaving an abuser, actually leaving an abuser, surviving after leaving, and long-term survival after leaving. Police departments are the local government first-responders most directly responsible for IPV survivors at the point of crisis. Their well-established use of community policing techniques requires police to serve as key information gatekeepers for all crime victims but particularly for IPV survivors. Police departments are examined in light of this original framework to determine the extent to which their websites address these situational information needs of IPV survivors. Using the original fourpart framework as an analytic lens, this examination of 172 police department websites in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas reveals major gaps in provision of essential information. Solving these problems requires more than simply filling the information gaps. The fundamental approach to local e-government social service information delivery must be firmly rooted in the information experiences of individuals' situations. Findings are contextualized in terms of information theory most relevant to individuals in crisis; future research needs are delineated.
doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2007.07.004 fatcat:gauhf4ugqzb73ifaedehgojy5q