I think one of the most important and critical applications of ICT is for disaster management and mitigation. With the proper infrastructure, monitoring, and implementation, ICT for Disasters can save countless lives and speed up the rebuilding and recovering process. As a case study, I am going to use our location – New Orleans, Louisiana – where we face the very real threat of hurricanes.
One of the most important steps anyone can take to mitigate the effects of disasters is preparation and preparedness. Check out Get A Game Plan from the Louisiana Governor’s office – it has plans and essential info to get you prepared for the next storm. You can also download the app on your iPhone! Public campaigns through TV ads, Internet, Texts, etc can deliver helpful information and reminders.
Early warning systems (EWS) are key in making sure that people know when disasters are coming and what precautions to take. EWS can be traditional (alarms, radio, TV, telephone) or modern (SMS, Internet, Apps). With NOLA Ready, New Orleans residents can sign up to receive notifications via text, email, or phone call for evacuation information, weather advisories, infrastructure issues (water advisories, power outages), and traffic. Have an iPhone? With the WDSU Hurricane Central App, you can track tropical storms and hurricanes with satellite maps, up-to-date notifications, preparation checklists, and planning maps.
During a disaster, apps on your phone and other ICT options can keep you informed and safe. They can also help connect you to loved ones. Did you know? During Hurricane Katrina, phone service was limited or unavailable, but SMS often still worked! This is because SMS works on a different band, and can be sent and received even when service is down or congested. Another plus is that you can text multiple people at once, which will save you battery power.
In the aftermath of disasters, online databases (check out Sahana) can help with missing persons and connecting people to NGOs and resources. Satellite images can help identity damage and find those in need of help.
-Many of these devices are not used during the night hours and often powered off, which reduces effectiveness
-ICT usually requires a power source, which can be cut off during an emergency! Back up batteries or generators are suggested.
-Not everyone has access to ICT!
-There must be coordination between governments, NGOs, and the public
-There must be proper and adequate infrastructure, that is somewhat standardized compatible with these technologies
-People have to use it! Having ICTs in place does no good if people do not take advantage!
Do you know of any tools and tips that I missed?