Beyond Sister City Agreements: Exploring the Challenges to Full International Interoperability

Communities on the international border are often interconnected by more than simple proximity. They are connected through social networks, economy, culture, and shared natural resources. Despite this interdependent relationship, and in spite of international agreements that support mutual aid between countries, crossing the border with emergency resources, even for a humanitarian purpose, can be problematic. In this Viewpoints video, Calvin Shanks, Senior Director of Safety Services at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso , discusses his CHDS Master’s thesis which examined existing agreements on both the northern and southern U.S. borders to determine how various regions address their cross-border agreements. Research indicated that unique challenges-such as liability concerns, local politics, and border violence-along the Mexican border must be addressed. By examining the fuller context, this thesis recommends that local entities examine their specific challenges to establishing fully interoperable agreements. Local interoperability agreements just might move us beyond ‘sister city agreements’ and put us on the path toward functional international partnerships.

Master’s theses, from homeland security students at the Naval Postgraduate School, are available in the Homeland Security Digital Library.

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