Even more recently, Hurricane Michael tore a path of destruction from the Florida coast to Virginia. The United States National Hurricane Center estimates that the Category 4 hurricane combined a storm surge of 9-14 feet with peak winds of 155 mph (250 km/h) causing 15 deaths in Central America and an additional 18 deaths on the U.S. mainland. While the hurricane weakened over the states of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, the damaging winds continued leaving 1 million residents without power.
Continued climate change and environmental degradation is causing an increase in disasters worldwide resulting in the need for greater disaster management with quicker, more effective and efficient responses.
Growth in the use of mobile devices has been explosive and can dramatically change how we respond to these challenges. Five billion people around the world have mobile phones. That is two thirds of the world’s population connected by mobile technology.
The challenge with the proliferation of individual mobile devices in a disaster situation can be information overload where mountains of unstructured data are captured with little or no ability to sort, qualify, analyze, report, or act on the data in real-time.
Purpose-Built Disaster Management Apps Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness
The answer to the challenge of unstructured data related to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanoes or other events, is purpose-built mobile applications.
With disaster management apps in place, first responders and volunteers have technology on their side, increasing response capabilities and improving effectiveness. Most importantly, information can continue to be gathered when there is limited or no Wi-Fi connectivity. Having the ability to record data while offline can shift attention from asking, “How are we going to capture and analyze all of this critical information?” to being able to dig in immediately and provide a faster, more attentive response in the aftermath.
An effective disaster recovery response requires specific purpose-built mobile apps to be able to support the urgent needs of victims and responders. GPS and map locations; signature and image annotation; job dispatch; and drawing, photo, video and audio upload capabilities are critical and must be fully offline capable. These highly targeted apps bring together large volumes of information through user-friendly, customizable forms and automated workflows which enable humanitarian organizations, governments, multinational corporations and volunteers to maximize their productivity and speed.
What’s more, this comprehensive incident management solution can be built using drag-and-drop technology which enables non-technical personnel to develop exactly the applications that are needed for a specific situation. Custom applications can include:
- Incident and Injury Reports: Record, track and report on large numbers of individual incidents across the disaster zone to provide first-hand data on the number and severity of personal injuries or fatalities, on-scene medical attention, and those transported to area hospitals.
- Damage Assessments: Collect, assemble and analyze damage across a single site or a large area to provide detailed information into the damage sustained. The ability to take and attach photos and videos also provide on-scene insight into the actual impact.
- Road Closure Reports: Deliver real-time updates on roads which may be impassable and offer alternative routes which can get emergency responders to their destination more quickly.
- Evacuation Centre Updates: Collect the names of individuals arriving at each facility resulting in a master database of survivors and their locations. Each evacuation center can also report on the levels of food, water and other supplies available at their facility.
- Road Conditions: Evaluate and continually report on road conditions as they worsen or improve. Data can be analyzed, and information pushed to Road Closure Reports as roads are deemed impassable or removed from the report as they are opened for residents to return home.
- Site Investigations: Evaluate primary and secondary sites to determine the extent of the damage at each location. Reporting can be done more efficiently and accurately with an investigation checklist used by all site investigators to ensure the same issues are addressed and nothing is overlooked.
- Hazard Inspections: Assess and report on hazards such as gas leaks, flooding, falling rubble, and damaged structures to determine their potential impact on the community.
These custom apps focused on critical intelligence, information gathering, and sharing provide unparalleled flexibility by enabling first responders to utilize any mobile device wherever they may be – in the largest city or the most remote jungle. They can receive situational updates, provide intelligence, assign critical tasks and make vital decisions in real-time. These purpose-built mobile apps integrate information from multiple touch-points to deliver a central repository for data on which all responders can rely.
Disaster Management Applications – An Invaluable Tool for Both Preparedness and Response
The earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Indonesia as well as the hurricane in Florida are just the most recent examples of disasters which can occur when we least expect them. Mobile apps designed specifically for disaster management deliver the critical tools needed to respond quickly and effectively. They help provide immediate and ongoing assistance, assess damage, coordinate search and rescue efforts, manage volunteer and restoration efforts, move supplies, reunite families and restore a sense of normalcy which is so critical in this challenging time.
There are a number of platforms for creating disaster management apps, ensure that the one you choose ticks all the relevant feature boxes.