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The Broader Context of Disaster Recovery

The Broader Context of Disaster Recovery


Disasters strike when they are least expected, for instance, busting of pipes, malfunctioning of essential equipment, extreme and unprecedented weather from Mother Nature among others. Global climate change has contributed greatly to the occurrences of storms that are powerful and harmful, such as Hurricane Katrina, as well as Rita. Recently, disaster management efforts have been on the rise, including unprecedented developments in ICST or the information, communication, and space technologies. The technologies are vital in bringing out detailed observations, monitoring, information collection, disaster early warning systems, ease of communication and dissemination, and delivery of disaster related services. This paper will discuss the types of information services that could be pre-established before a disaster strikes, positioning of such, target population, and justification. The paper will also show appreciation for the broader context of recovery imperatives, problems, and barriers, including consideration of social, economic, political, ethical, environmental, and sustainability issues in disaster mitigation.

Information Services for Disaster Management

Disaster management is effective where all the participants or stakeholders involved are well informed. Accessibility to consistent and properly scrutinized current data is vital for reduction of disaster risk. Communication that is easily accessible allowing for cheap information exchanges plays a central role in this endeavor. This is so because data are crucial for continued research that aids in national planning and proper monitoring of hazards through assessment of risks (Vyas & Desai, 2007). Serious consequences are encountered when there is a neglect of disaster early warning system. The following are some of information services that could be pre-established before a disaster strikes:

Remote sensing information services

This is a technique that is investigative and uses recording technology to collect data on a distant object and builds up essential information from the environment. Aerial Remote Sensing involves capturing information in form of images and photographs on sensors mounted on aircrafts, which are later used in satellite sensing to assess natural hazards so as to bring development plans on disaster mitigation (Satyabrata, 2010). Remote sensing aids in collection of vast data on environmental hazards, which is not possible on ground observation and covers a wide area over a short period of time, coupled with the ability to capture data in most weather conditions. Remote sensing can be used as a tool to aid in information about disaster types, such as floods, volcanic eruptions, and drought among others (Vyas & Desai, 2007).

The information collected can be availed to the affected populations through national governments or international organizations by means of other communication technologies, such as mobile telephony, internet emailing, satellite communication, government websites, etc. To ensure territorial honor and overcome of barriers, such as state politics and economic imbalances, which affect procurement of proper infrastructure to relay the information in time, intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, can be used to deliver such services to member states and affected populations (Vyas & Desai, 2007). To ensure this is successful, the state owned disaster management centers can be equipped with the right technologies to receive and disseminate disaster information in time. International humanitarian organizations can also be incorporated in this to ensure sustainability of the centers even in the developing countries. Disaster information from remote sensing is critical to all the affected populations and not to a particular region because disaster affects all nations once it strikes. For instance, the recent earthquake in Nepal near the nation’s capital Kathmandu affected a number of states globally due to the metropolitan nature of the area affected. Ethical considerations are also vital, such as the relay of accurate information in the right manner to avoid panic and to ease preparedness measures. Information on remote sensing connected to a disaster can also be placed in Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) website (NIH, 2015) for stakeholders to access governments, international organizations, and education centers.

Geographical Information System (GIS) services

GIS is a tool that can aid in analyzing disaster information in relation to the natural and geographic phenomenon. Information stored in the tool can be accessed by disaster management stakeholders, such as government, to assess hazard risk and prepare (Satyabrata, 2010). Information on GIS brings clear assessment of hazard zoning and environmental risks, such as infrastructural and natural threats and utilizable response resources. Such information gives room for disaster or emergency teams to comfortably assess and plan for the impact of a potential disaster on geographical basis allowing for mobilization of resources. GIS information aids in setting up evacuation routes and in the preparation of warning messages to be disseminated to the affected populations (Vyas & Desai, 2007).

In relation to the drought hazards and hazardous regions, GIS coupled with remote sensing are important tools to develop early warnings on potential drought conditions allowing for relief measure to be taken. Ground water sites to ease the drought conditions can also be detected through satellite imaging. In relation to seismic hazards, GIS and remote sensing can be used to determine the risk involved in case of an earthquake, Same applies to potential flood and landslide zones (Vyas & Desai, 2007). Information obtained allows for planning of limiting factors to disaster response such as economic, political, social, and environmental factors ensuring that all the different aspects of the affected population are respected with utmost observation of fundamental rights yielding sustainability.

GIS information can be placed or conveyed through local and international disaster management websites, government sites, such sites as the World Health Organization (WHO), and other international non-governmental humanitarian organizations like the International Red Cross. Member states of such organizational affiliations and local governments utilize the information to prepare for potential disasters within their areas of jurisdiction. Disasters being global phenomena that affect all the human societies require a multifaceted and multi-sectoral approach, hence the need for dissemination of early warning messages to the affected populations for preparations in terms of mobilization of resources required to counter a disaster (Satyabrata, 2010).

Global Positioning System (GPS) services

Prior knowledge on positions of resources for emergencies, landmarks, such as streets and buildings, and sites dealing with relief, saves immense time that could have been wasted during disaster preparedness planning (Satyabrata, 2010). Information obtained from GPS aids the disaster management personnel, both local and international, and public safety and relief teams to reduce the loss of lives and property in case of a disaster. GPS provides instant coordinates of a location in three-dimension format allowing accuracy in determining an exact hazardous region. Precise locations allow for planning considering political, economic, environmental, social, and ethical factors of affected populations. Mobilization of resources can be done in accordance with the anticipated impact and economic status of the affected (Vyas & Desai, 2007).

Global Positioning System (GPS) is playing a critical role in aiding scientists to project potential earthquakes in prone regions. Precise locations provided by GPS help in the study how seismic pressure is building up and anticipating potential earthquakes, hence making plans and setting up preparedness measures. GPS data transmitted through the atmosphere aid meteorologists in determining flood prone areas. GPS, as a resource for disaster information, can be placed in mobile telephony, both in emergency and public cars, maritime vessels and aircrafts. Emergencies and disasters affecting such populations will trigger calls for help even without intervention of those affected. This aids the rescue and relief teams to save a lot of time in offering humanitarian aid to those caught up in a disaster. GPS works hand in hand with automated communication systems (Vyas & Desai, 2007).

Satellite technology information service

Satellite technology makes other information resources to be successful, hence very critical as a disaster information service. Satellites comprise the only infrastructure for communication that is unaffected by disaster due to its out of atmosphere nature (Satyabrata, 2010). Satellite networks relay information in many countries about potential seismic and flooding disasters to government agencies allowing for preparedness. They broadcast warning messages and aid in communication among the public, government agencies, and relief institutions. Satellite information aids in relying data on remote sensing, global positioning system (GPS), geographical information system (GIS) to the required destination and for overall communication easing disaster preparedness between nations. Satellite technology has made the world to be a global village in that data can be conveyed to a desired recipient worldwide at just a click of a button. Satellites are placed in space and accessed locally. Satellite information on potential disasters is placed and accessed through cellular phones (calls and short messages –SMS), computer networking (internet), television broadcast and satellite radios (local media). This allows massive reach of the target and affected populations leading to disaster preparedness (Vyas & Desai, 2007).


The current  paper has analyzed the types of information services or resources that could be pre-established before a disaster strikes, positioning of such, target populations and justification with clear considerations of recovery imperatives such as social, economic, political, ethical, environmental, and sustainability issues in disaster mitigation. It has been established that remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and satellite technology are important information resources for disaster preparedness. Remote sensing provides satellite imaging of a potential disaster prone area, geographical information systems create a database of all the information obtained through remote sensing helping to detect potential hazards, global positioning systems aid in determining precise locations of such hazards and potential risks involved, while satellite technology aids in dissemination of information from the three above mentioned systems to desired destinations for actions, such as planning, mobilization of resources, and early warning system. GPS information provides exact locations of potential disasters leading to assessment of possible environmental damages, economic constraints, and social and political networks to help derive ethical measures and to secure sustainability of disaster management.

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