Disaster response management is extensively using geospatial information for increased efficiency in all four stages. How the authorities benefit from incorporating GIS in their disaster response framework is an interesting topic and here we attempt to throw some light on the critical role of GIS in disaster management.

Disaster response management aims to conserve lives and property during disasters and includes in its ambit all activities to manage the human, material, environmental and economic impact of the disasters. Disaster can be natural or man-made, and today we see a trend of disasters becoming more prevalent and resulting in tremendous responsibilities on the authorities.

Geographic information system (GIS) captures location-based data and has a fundamental impact in all the stages of preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. The information used throughout these stages has spatial character and renders depiction on the map, providing a powerful tool for informed decision making.

The wide application of geospatial services in disaster response management forms the rest of this discussion.

Geographic information system through the four stages of disaster management

Disasters carry a spatial nature where GIS and remote sensing can enhance the coordination and response of the disaster management team. GIS can provide live data on the parameters such as topography, population, infrastructure, and demographics and disseminate such information promptly during emergencies.

  • Preparedness – All advanced actions taken to enable an effective response when a crisis emerges comes under-preparedness. It includes identifying and developing the required facilities, tools, and communication plans. GIS can help to select the location of evacuation shelters, model the evacuation routes, identify the strategic facilities, and conduct exercises for testing the preparedness.
  • Response – When a disaster strikes, a fast and efficient response is crucial to minimize the impact. Emergency services should be mobilized quickly including rescue teams, volunteers, and logistical support. GIS aids by providing alerts on the existing or progressing emergencies based on the areas the disaster could impact. Nearest shelters and optimum routes can be identified. GIS supports the various department heads by collecting and sharing information for emergency decision making along with monitoring the disaster status and progress.
  • Recovery – The stage begins once the emergency is over and aims to restore the society, property, and individuals to the original state. The essential services are restored in the short-term recovery stage and during the long-term recovery stage the destroyed infrastructure and property are repaired and efforts are initiated to provide employment to the people. GIS supports by providing information to assess the damages. GIS can identify the damage and include photographs of the damaged sites. It also aids in locating the supplies for reconstruction, assesses the shelter needs and alternate transportation routes for continuing operations, and monitors the progress of the reconstruction efforts.
  • Mitigation – This includes the actions taken prior to a disaster to reduce the impact on lives and property. Mitigation can be structural or non-structural mitigation. Structural mitigation includes construction projects to reduce impact while non-structural mitigation involves practices for raising awareness and reduce the impact of hazards. GIS enables the authorities to develop decision support systems to assess the risk of disasters and plan mitigation strategies accordingly.

As disasters are becoming more frequent, authorities should incorporate geospatial technologies while devising the response strategy to enable faster and concise actions and for emerging safely from the disaster.

SBL is a leading player in the GIS space with a decade of proven success behind us. Our cost-effective integrated mapping solutions have helped organizations in public and private sectors make informed decisions. Parcel mapping, thematic mapping, and forestry mapping are a few of our core focus areas. We can provide reliable geospatial services in the domain of disaster management by capturing accurate geographic coordinates and reducing duplication. Contact us today to know more about how SBL can help your organization in disaster response management.