Natural disasters can happen anytime and you can never be too prepared. While emergencies like hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes are predictable, others like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions come without a warning. You cannot avoid them, but it is possible to at least make efforts to minimize their impact. Fortunately, technological improvements enable global communities to respond to the massive challenges presented by such predictable and unexpected disasters.
One of the technologies that come ahead as a savior is Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Essentially, it is a framework that gathers, manages, and analyzes data that can be used for creating an effective disaster response plan. Let us explore the various ways in which GIS can aid in disaster management.
Mitigation refers to the initiatives that minimize the loss of life and property during an emergency. GIS can go a long way in implementing the appropriate mitigation strategies before calamities strike. For example, it can help with flood hazard mapping that identifies flood hazards and risks in a specific area. The information can be used for increasing education and awareness in the public and building partnerships for risk reduction. With the right planning, it may be possible to empower people residing in high-risk areas so that they can take the right approach to deal with emergencies.
Risk mitigation goes hand in hand with emergency preparedness, which goes beyond survival food kits and emergency supplies. This includes advanced actions for developing operational capabilities that enable a more effective response to a critical situation. Preparedness starts with predictions and topography and culminates at how urban planning uses GIS technology to prepare for the possibilities of disasters. These efforts can go a long way to facilitating evacuation planning with better communication and decision making.
Perhaps the most critical aspect of disaster planning is the response, which decides how the governments deal with emergency situations. Geographic information systems serve as a significant component of response plans as they provide accurate digital overlays with key information such as hydrologic and hydraulic models and consequences models. These vital pieces of information can help experts come up with effective measures to respond to emergencies.
After providing the initial relief, the next step of a disaster management plan is recovery. The objective of this phase is to restore normalcy after the calamity. It includes the restoration of property, society, and individual livelihood of the people in the affected areas. Further, this is the time to access the new natural conditions and update data and systems to represent the geological changes resulting from natural disasters. Once again, GIS can help the agencies with the various requirements in the recovery stage too.
Not enough can be said about the value of utilizing geographical information systems for creating better and more effective disaster response plans. Technology plays a key role in the entire phases of the emergency management process. It equips response teams to handle the worst situations better, with higher levels of planning, better awareness, and effective recovery operations. As a result, governments can achieve increased collaboration and economic savings while ensuring safety for the population.