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The purpose of this research is to establish the conditions for successful design of ICT for disaster management systems in ICT and emergency services. Through an analysis of various guidelines, policy recommendations as well as case studies, the research will establish some of the situations that lead to successful ICT disaster management.
The target audience consists of international, national, federal and local government bodies, business owners, insurance organisations, infrastructure-based organisations, like Telecom companies, emergency firms, such as The Red Cross, and IT firms that specialise in provision of emergency services.
Geographic Information System (GIS): Software used to analyse geographic and spatial data
Disaster: physical, social or natural situations that create social crises among vulnerable populations.
The study will entail use of secondary references. It was the preferred method of data collection owing to the broad nature of the research topic. In order to make the paper highly generalisable, it was essential to use a research method that would incorporate a myriad of views.
The media, government bodies, welfare organisations, professional organisations, IT firms have unique perspectives on the research topic, so all their input should be sought. It is logistically untenable to use primary research methods when dealing with such a vast array of perceptions.
Yap (2011) looked at the role of ICT in managing climate-related disasters in developing nations. The author found that certain patterns are emerging in the field. First, international bodies are standardising disaster management systems through the use of various protocols.
As result, many entities now benefit from reduced costs and fewer inconsistencies. Interoperability is also another emerging trend, where markets are pushing for open data storage and open software solutions for disaster handling. Additionally, stakeholders are striving for lower costs through new technologies.
For instance, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles has gained favour owing to the speed of disaster responses inherent in the systems. Inter agency coordination is becoming an imperative force in hurriedly-formed disaster management agencies. Non governmental organisations, the government and industry stakeholders are forming strategic alliances in disaster management through ICT, as well.
Asimakopoulou & Bessis (2010) largely studied disaster management practice, decisions and mechanisms from an ICT angle. The writers believe that individuals can handle threat detection and mitigation through the application of recent technologies like smart web radio and social media.
They also affirm that strategic issues such as risk reduction and crisis management can be better-enabled through ICT. The book also consists of a series of models and theories like 3D models that graphically illustrate how ICT enhances disaster management.
Wattegama (2007) dwells on all three aspects of ICT disaster management; prevention, mitigation and recovery. The author starts with disaster prevention by focusing on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which governments use in order to analyse spatial and geographic data. This allows them to plan for disasters. Furthermore, ICT may also be utilised for warning purposes.
Stakeholders can then create response and mitigation strategies to deal with these differences. During disaster response, the author claims that ICT infrastructure can assist in responding to disasters by tracing missing people, linking donor groups, and finding temporary shelters.
He identified several case studies in India, Sri Lanka and other Asian nations that enjoyed these benefits through ICT. Disaster recovery can occur through the use of different types of software that facilitate the gathering, analysis and storage of emergency-related data. Locations can then use the information to analyse the impact of the disaster or learn from it.
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Okada et al. (2012) look into the lessons learnt from the march 11 Japan Earthquake. Most of the panellists emphasised the importance of ICT in creation of simulations. They also stressed the need to have accurate databases for prediction of future disasters. It was also imperative to adopt global disaster response standards. Iannella and Henricksen (2007) study the application of ICT in disaster management at the information level.
They develop a system that assists in tackling some of the various challenges associated with communication in a disaster management centre. Their management system responds to challenges revolving around the correct reception of a message from a recipient. It also identifies and solves glitches that arise from failed responses to recipients or delivery of messages in a fast-paced, disaster response unit.
The United States Department of State (2011) gives some recommendations on how to improve ICT use in disaster response. They affirm that ICT providers need to plan and access resources prior to occurrence of disasters. They also state that governments should give ICT the precedence it deserves as a form of critical infrastructure.
Coordination between various players, like public and private ICT providers is also another strategy for mitigation of the problem. Information flow in international disaster management is also imperative in the success of ICT disaster management systems.
Rajamaki et al. (2011) examine principles of ICT disaster management systems for buildings. They affirm that ICT facilitates real time information to stakeholders in order to allow fast transfer of people or commodities during fire rescue. By merging information about real estate, locations and building layouts with personal information, such as valuable spacing and equipment spacing, it is possible to act promptly during disaster management.
The following is a diagrammatic representation of ICT disaster management
Source: Piira and Lappalainen (n.d.)
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of the report was to determine some of the prerequisites to successful use of disaster management systems. One of the emerging themes from the literature is the need for strong infrastructural support. Governments need to provide stakeholders with the right resources as well as policies needed to use ICT effectively during emergencies. Telecommunication systems should support ICT in order enhance decision-making in these entities (Okada et al. 2012).
Successful design of ICT in disaster management also entails the standardisation of data collection. This needs to occur at the national level in order to facilitate better information control. For example, a country must posses accurate census information about housing placements and populations.
It must also make this information available in reachable media. For instance, geographical maps for small villages should be available on the internet and not just in print form (Yap 2011). If too many protocols exist for information security or local laws do not support information flow, then emergency services will be difficult to provide through ICT. It is essential for ICT professionals to have up to date and easily available information in order to handle disasters. The process pegs on ease of transference or access to information.
ICT professionals need to have the skills needed to work with each other in order to make the most of their respective capabilities. Disaster management is always better handled by persons who understand meteorological data. If they do not have the right capacity then chances are that no interpretation and information processing will occur (Rajamaki et al. 2011).
Most of the analysts also agree that effective application of ICT in emergency responses occurs when professionals rely on locally-available technologies. Yap (2011) cites various examples of software solutions that IT professionals in disaster-stricken nations developed. For instance, in Myanmar, ICT experts developed Dumbo, which is a mobile wireless network whose role was to link remote locations in an emergency.
The system enabled the country to transmit information about users in emergency systems and even chat with disaster relief providers. The system overcame challenges associated with previous wireless technologies. Therefore, it is crucial to harness local ICT competencies during disasters first.
The authors believe that international cooperation is an essential component of effective ICT disaster management. Countries should share information with each other in order to strengthen their networks.
For instance, one country may have developed systems for extreme wind events, medium fires, or wild fires while another one may have specialised in non drainage floods. It would be useful for these countries to share their expertise in both areas by having a common database or using other ICT mechanisms. Countries with few resources can enjoy infrastructural savings in their chosen areas of expertise. Successful use of ICT in disaster management also depends on interdisciplinary effort.
Therefore, cooperation should not just be limited to the national level, but should also apply to the disciplinary level. ICT professionals ought to work hand in hand with individuals from other fields, such as environment management and finance. The collaborative effort allows parties to do risk assessments and vulnerability reduction more effectively (Wattegama 2007).
National policies cannot be underestimated in ICT disaster management. They have the capacity to open markets for development in ICT. Leading authorities are also responsible for issuance of communication licenses. Successful ICT disaster management depends on provision of license-free frequencies. It also relies on serious commitment from policy makers at all levels. Governments in underdeveloped nations often fail to prioritise ICT infrastructure and this creates a barrier in disaster management.
The authors also agree that successful use of ICT in emergencies is characterised by an amalgamation of various technologies. Some professionals have mistakenly assumed that one form of hardware would be more appropriate for their location than another. Others restrict themselves to certain software solutions.
However, studies have shown that no disaster management system is appropriate for all occasions. Consequently, professionals should not think of the various alternatives as competing avenues; instead, a complementary approach needs to be considered.
NGOs and other emergency service providers need to create awareness on the usefulness of ICT infrastructure. They should be at the forefront of negotiating the role of ICT in disaster mitigation.
ICT professionals should continually update their skills and familiarise themselves with the latest development in disaster management. Their ability to apply their skills can determine how successful emergency projects become.
When ICT professionals obtain information about disasters, they should link results to personal market behaviour. Individuals need to employ simulations during evaluation. Governments should acknowledge the importance of those results and incorporate them in emergency decisions.
Governments should enhance interagency cooperation and cooperation with other nations in order to expedite emergency response. By clearly laying out the necessary procedures for cooperation, then governments can be at the forefront of strengthening ICT emergency response.
Asimakopoulou, E & Bessis, N 2010, Advances ICTs for disaster management and threat detection, IGI Global Snippet, London.
Iannella, R and Henricksen, K 2007, ‘Managing information in the disaster coordination centre: Lessons and opportunities’, Proceeding of the 4th international ISCRAM Conference, Delft, The Netherlands, 1-11.
Okada, S, Hattori, S, Watanabe, H & Suwa, Y 2012, ‘Lessons learnt from the Great East Japan Earthquake’, Japan Times, p. 10.
Piira and Lappalainen n.d., Real time building information service for emergency management. Web.
Rajamaki, J, Hult, T & Ofem, P 2011, ‘ICT integration of public protection and disaster relief: services for fire and rescue personnel’, International Journal of Computers and Communications, vol. 5 no. 3, pp. 120-125.
The United States Department of State 2011, Recommendations to enhance information and communications technology (ICT) aspects of US international disaster response. Web.
Wattegama, C 2007, ICT for disaster management. Web.