Study report outlines next generation of data-based disaster management

The Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) Working Group on Data and the International Science Council’s Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) have released a report on the next generation of disaster management systems. As disasters and the number affected by them increase due to climate change, disaster management needs to evolve as well. “Next Generation Disaster Data Infrastructure” argues that integrated data plays a central role in this context.

The report finds that emergency response systems need to integrate big data, social media, mobile phone networks and GIS. It argues that the future will involve Active Emergency Response Systems (AERS), automated response systems which are fed data about emergencies from satellites and sensors. AERS will respond to differing threats by shutting down gas lines, stopping elevators, texting civilians or slowing high-speed trains - all while alerting emergency responders. This integrated, data-based system will streamline emergency response saving time and lives according to the report, and space-based technology plays a key role.

CODATA highlights that GIS needs “to be fully utilized to enhance disaster analysis tools and to support real time access to reliable disaster areas”. The new disaster response systems will work with massive amounts of data, and GIS is the key to compiling it for use in tactical mapping, quality control and loss and vulnerability estimates. The report also notes the need for reliable satellite systems as telecommunication is necessary for alerting those in affected areas.

As the frequency and severity of extreme weather events increases, the role of climate change in disaster management cannot be ignored. The report focuses on integrating the Sendai Framework for Disaster and Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and New Urban Agenda. The four frameworks must be considered together to properly respond to the full toll future disasters will take on communities.