Disaster Informatics: Information Management as a Tool for Effective Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster Informatics: Information Management as a Tool for Effective Disaster Risk Reduction

Jishnu Subedi (Tribhuvan University, Nepal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-987-3.ch006

Abstract

From risk identification to emergency response and recovery, information plays a vital role and the effective use of information is instrumental to reduce the impact of disasters. With the advancement of information and communication technology in the last few decades, lack of information is no longer a major issue for disaster risk reduction. The major issue, rather, is managing the information, translating it into a comprehensive knowledge for decision making and disseminating it to the communities at risk for action. The advancement of technology and reach of communication tools at a grassroots level have created an opportunity to increase effectiveness of disaster risk management with the optimum use of disaster informatics. This chapter presents an overview of disaster informatics, a conceptual framework for information management for disaster risk reduction, a review of existing approaches of information dissemination through the Internet and a review of the combined potential of Internet with tools which are widely available at grassroots levels.
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Background

Disaster risk reduction is “the conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development” (UNISDR, 2004, pp. 17). Disaster risk reduction has become a mainstream agenda in the sustainable development (UNDP, 2004) and efforts are underway to put more money on prevention which not only saves development efforts being washed from disasters but also will result in reduction of the resources spent on relief and recovery. The evolution and progress in disaster management (Alexander, 1997) has shifted the focus from emergency response to building resilient communities to disasters (UNISDR, 2005).

In the evolution of disaster management, the importance of information for effective disaster management has been firmly grounded. Information is a vital form of aid in case of disasters (IFRC, 2005) and people need information as much as water, food, medicine or shelter. Information can save lives and information can save resources. Information management is collection of the information, processing it, translating the information into knowledge and action and disseminating them to the communities in need. However, the emphasis of institutions working in the field of disaster management is much on collection of information and the later stages of information management are not in priority. ICT has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades and its advancement has opened the possibility of efficient and effective information management for disaster risk reduction.

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