When working in a disaster, there are many resources and available technologies to help managers coordinate relief efforts. Some of the critical technologies include mapping, aerial photography, information management, and logistics. The following is a brief review of these four areas and how their proper implication in the disaster management field can make a difference in saving lives.
Knowing the geographic features of the affected area are extremely important. Having reliable maps is key to planning the distribution of resources and people and determining what obstacles are likely to be in the way of getting to those locations. Many different types of maps can assess the area: topographic maps, geologic maps, hazard maps, demographic maps, and hurricane tracking maps. It is essential to have access to this reliable information and have a proficient ability to read these maps.
Computers are becoming extremely important in the mapping world. With the implementation of technologies like GIS and GPS, precision calculations concerning location and elevation can be made. This is important because it will help disaster managers to determine flood planes, geographic boundaries, and location. Computers are also starting to take a significant role in calculating at-risk places in disaster-affected areas.
Similar technology to mapping, which is essential, is the use of aerial photography. While maps can tell you where the geographic features of a place are and the human-made infrastructures, recent aerial photography will reveal the current, post-disaster situation. When used in conjunction with maps, this information can be very useful in doing damage assessment, rescue planning, and reconstruction/cleanup.
In all disaster situations, there is a considerable amount of shared information and being dumped onto people. Some of this information is important to the immediate needs of rescue, but lots of it deals with post-disaster relief. All this incoming information can make difficult situations too confusing when confusion already exists in excess. Over the last decade, the growing functionality and portability of computers have made managing this information much more manageable. All information can be routed to an off-site information hub and then routed to the proper people in the field. This allows for faster transmission of information to the people who need to know it and less confusion and clutter of information. This acceleration is essential to conducting all aspects of disaster management, especially in search and rescue efforts.
One final area, which is important to technology in the disaster management field is logistics. Like information management, logistics deals with the management of resources. A disaster manager must be able to identify the barriers to getting needed supplies into areas and accommodate alternative transportation methods of resources. Through logistics, disaster managers can route the most needed resources to the areas most in need of receiving them.
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