Skip navigation

Determining disaster data management needs in a multi-disaster context

Authors: Harris, Elizabeth A.
Rasdorf, William J.
Laefer, Debra F.
Keywords: disaster management;data management;civil engineering
Issue Date: 2005
Citation: Harris, E.A., Rasdorf, W.J. and Laefer, D.F., 2005. Determining disaster data management needs in a multi-disaster context. National Science Foundation Final Rep. No. CMS-0353175, Raleigh, NC.c
Series/Report no.: National Science Foundation Final Rep.;CMS-0353175
Abstract: In the last four decades, the economic loss from natural hazard disasters has increased ten-fold. The increasing human and economic impacts of disasters have intensified efforts on the global, national, state, and local levels to find ways to reduce these impacts. Improved collection and management of disaster data can help support planning and decision-making by first responders and emergency managers during all phases of the disaster cycle. The goal of this report is to establish what disaster-related data are needed in the planning, response, and recovery for multiple types of disasters, with a focus on the data needs in the state of North Carolina. There is a vast amount of information available from all phases of a disaster. Unfortunately, without proper collection, documentation, and storage, the information is either completely lost or is not transformed into functional data. Often, data that are critical for developing better mitigation efforts is not collected because much of it is short-lived and is lost prior to collection. Increased use of instrumentation, such as water level gauges and data collection and analysis software, can aid in collecting and disseminating real-time critical disaster data. The deployment of rapid-response data collection teams immediately after a disaster event can also improve the quantity and quality of data obtained during a disaster. Disaster management systems help first responders and emergency managers formulate and discriminate their decisions before, during, and after a disaster and therefore can serve as a way to organize, analyze, and disseminate critical disaster data. Groups of researchers and emergency management professionals in NC are trying to improve the collection and dissemination of disaster data in order to improve disaster preparation and response. Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) were looking at all phases of data collection in a multi-disaster context. Another group, the North Carolina Institute of Disaster Studies, hosted two previous workshops to better coordinate collaboration between emergency responders and academics throughout the state. These efforts, as well as the disaster data collection research efforts of the North Carolina Emergency Management Division, resulted in a need to gather members of the academic and emergency management community together to obtain a more accurate picture of multi-disaster data collection and use, and to develop the foundation for a consensus on areas of disaster data management that needed improvement. A Disaster Data Workshop, held at NCSU November 4-5, 2004, was chosen as one way to address the data collection and dissemination issues in a context of broad, statewide participation. The workshop planning committee determined that the approximately 30-40 workshop participants would discuss four different disasters in-depth. The four disasters chosen by the workshop planning committee to discuss in the workshop were hurricane and tornado wind, flood, ice storm, and intentional explosion. The first three disasters chosen are the most frequent natural disasters in NC, while the intentional explosion disaster was chosen so that an intentional man-made disaster would be included in the workshop. The five objectives of the NCSU Disaster Data Workshop on “Determining Disaster Data Needs in a Multi-Disaster Context” were as follows. • Evaluate the applicability of a general multi-disaster model, • Understand local data needs and opportunities, • Establish clear models of organizational participation in collection and use, • Define a common data set for multiple disasters, and • Lay the groundwork for establishment of data collection teams. The workshop’s structure was based on meeting the five workshop objectives within the available time. The five sessions of the workshop were data needs, data resources, data dissemination, common data set, and data collection teams. From the participants’ discussions on disaster data during the workshop sessions, some common themes emerged. The emerging themes on data needs, resources, and data dissemination were used to create and implement a multi-disaster data model. The model was developed by the workshop planning committee. The discussions on data needs and resources also led to the identification of data items that participants in each of the four disaster groups indicated were needed for their assigned disaster. These needed data items form a common data set for the four disasters investigated by the workshop, as well as possibly for other disasters not investigated. Also generated from the workshop discussions were a set of disaster data collection and management priorities for NC. From this research study, from the NCSU Disaster Data Workshop results, and from previous workshops and disaster management systems efforts, several conclusions can be drawn about disaster data and its management. Existing data collection and management efforts focus primarily on inventory data, since this information is available regardless of a disaster event. The development of data collection teams and a data repository in NC is needed and would contribute to disaster research and emergency management efforts. The four areas model developed from the workshop allows all of the data items the workshop participants could think of to be assigned to a data area. The common data set model developed from the workshop is also biased toward the data needs for NC, and may need to be modified for application in other regions. Also, a disaster data collection and management cycle was developed from the workshop discussions. This cycle can serve as an agenda for the development and operations of both disaster data collection teams and a common disaster data repository. Recommendations from this study for NC include more research in the area of ice storms, an additional workshop to discuss the further development of data collection teams and coordinated data management in the state, and developing a common disaster data repository in NC. Broader recommendations in the area of disaster data management include prioritizing data set development based on how critical the data set is to a region’s disaster preparedness and response, ensuring that disaster data collection teams are self-reliant, investigating more disaster types to better understand their data needs and resources, and improving data collection efforts through increased use of instrumentation and cooperation between emergency management organizations and managers of infrastructure systems such as transportation and utilities.
Appears in Collections:Debra Laefer's Collection

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
FINAL NSF Workshop Report FINAL 1-12-06.pdfReport7.01 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in FDA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.