Effective Disaster Relief, Preparedness, and Recovery via Centralized Data Collection and Management

Effective Disaster Relief, Preparedness, and Recovery via Centralized Data Collection and Management

Published On January 03, 2017 -   by

It’s an unfortunate reality that natural disasters can occur at anytime, anywhere in the world, causing massive amounts of destruction in their wake. When this happens, resources are limited and difficult to obtain, and those immediately affected by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornados, or wildfires can find themselves displaced and without basic supplies and support.

But there is available assistance for the victims of natural disaster events, with organizations like the Red Cross, USAID, and UNOPS ready to step in and provide shelter, medicine, and other forms of aid for those in need. Disaster relief, preparedness, and recovery are further augmented by data collection and data processing, two critical types of information that can offer insight and intelligence for first responders and relief agencies. Gathering and processing data quickly is essential to the efficiency and effectiveness of disaster response and relief, as well as preparedness and recovery strategies.

Data Collection for Potent Disaster Responsiveness

Countries worldwide have been attempting to establish a means to harness information towards the challenges that arise during disaster response. A collaborative and responsible approach to data collection and sharing will make humanitarian efforts more powerful when dealing with disaster relief efforts, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). A global data center, located in the Netherlands, is currently being created and will be functional in 2017, with the intention of creating a centralized database for countries all over the world to share all types of disaster associated information.

OCHA, along with other relief agencies such as the Standby Task Force and the Red Cross, believe that data collection, processing, analysis, and sharing goes hand in hand with targeted disaster responsiveness. While geographical and meteorological data is a necessary scientific component of accessing and measuring the impact natural disasters will have upon a specific environment, information accumulated from social based sources contribute to response efficiency as well. Collected data from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and local news and government sources, all provide real time information about developing disaster situations and can affect how support is deployed.

Examples of how data is utilized during disaster relief efforts and prevention:

  • UNOCHA collected data from social media during the 2014 Nepal earthquake to design a map of areas most in need of relief support, and send updated information to rescuers and aid workers in the field.
  • General Electric is taking disaster prevention steps by installing sensors inside an active volcano in Nicaragua that gathers data in order for the purpose of predicting its eruption.
  • Relief agencies rely upon collected data that is shared through connected databases and cloud systems to reinforce early warning techniques.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) are used to capture aerial data and map disaster areas.

Having access to data at all times, through a diverse variety of sources, enables relief organizations to strategize on how best to help those in need during these terrible natural occurrences when every extra second counts. Data collection is the first, and most vital, step in deploying aid, preventing further injury or loss of life, and providing authorities and disaster responders with the intelligence to make swift and shrewd decisions.

Data Collection and Management for Disaster Prevention and Policy Decisions

Natural disasters cause general instability across an affected region or location, and can incapacitate entire social systems such as schools, businesses, hospitals, clinics, local agencies, and public transportation. This can alter how data is interpreted by relief organizations, which is why many authorities stress the importance of research and data collection from existing studies, and adapting new data obtained from disaster situations accordingly. The unpredictability of disaster events limits interpretation and analysis of data during occurrences, therefore measuring new data against existing information is paramount for specialists and researchers.

Identification of disaster risks through systematic data collection, analysis, and management helps mitigate and reduce disaster risks, as well as effect policy decisions, according to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Through this method, disaster risks and assessments can be made by experts to help create solutions for countries who want to build durable communities and valuable relief preparedness solutions. UNISDR is using this methodology to build disaster loss databases for all countries to access.

Other databases that use data collection to gather essential disaster based information include:

  • EM-DAT International Disaster Database: This database holds information about over 18k natural disasters from across the globe, beginning in 1900, and includes data, research, and analysis from governments, educational institutes, insurance agencies, and UN sources.
  • DESInventar: Builds databases and accumulates information about loss, damage, and impact of natural disasters for the purpose of helping communities create preparedness plans.
  • GAR Risk Data Viewer: Presents data from Global Assessment Reports about disaster risks that has been compiled from governments, scientific and research institutions, private sectors, and UN sources.

As worldwide organizations understand the gravity and necessity of data collection to help design a better process of handling natural disasters, the inclusion of globally accessed databases that all countries can contribute to and utilize is becoming a standardized practice. Being prepared to handle any possible effects of unpredictable natural disaster events can make a tremendous difference for both the locally effected citizens, businesses, and agencies, and the relief organizations that assist them. 

Effective Treatment of Relief Assistance with Data Collection

With specialized databases being developed to compile information towards the aim of offering a more all-encompassing understanding of risks and prevention, and unique means of gathering intel while disaster events are happening, relief organizations and global government systems are able to make effective strides in how natural disasters are treated. The absolute critical nature of data collection is undeniable, and regarded by all authorities as the origin of all effective relief methods.

– DataEntryOutsourced

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