Technology and Emergency Management
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Technology and Emergency Management

John C. Pine

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eBook - ePub

Technology and Emergency Management

John C. Pine

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The first book devoted to a critically important aspect of disaster planning, management, and mitigation

Technology and Emergency Management, Second Edition describes best practices for technology use in emergency planning, response, recovery, and mitigation. It also describes the key elements that must be in place for technology to enhance the emergency management process. The tools, resources, and strategies discussed have been applied by organizations worldwide tasked with planning for and managing every variety of natural and man-made hazard and disaster.Illustrative case studies based on their experiences appear throughout the book.

This new addition of the critically acclaimed guide has been fully updated and expanded to reflect significant developments occurring in the field over the past decade. It features in-depth coverage of major advances in GIS technologies, including the development of mapping tools and high-resolution remote sensing imaging. Also covered is the increase in computer processing power and mobility and enhanced analytical capabilities for assessing the present conditions of natural systems and extrapolating from them to create accurate models of potential crisis conditions. This second edition also features a new section on cybersecurity and a new chapter on social media and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery has been added.

  • Explores the role of technology in emergency planning, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts
  • Explores applications of the Internet, telecommunications, and networks to emergency management, as well as geospatial technologies and their applications
  • Reviews the elements of hazard models and the relative strengths and weaknesses of modeling programs
  • Describes techniques for developing hazard prediction models using direct and remote sensing data
  • Includes test questions for each chapter, and a solutions manual and PowerPoint slides are available on a companion website

Technology and Emergency Management, Second Edition is a valuable working resource for practicing emergency managers and an excellent supplementary text for undergraduate and graduate students in emergency management and disaster management programs, urban and regional planning, and related fields.

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Starting Point

Go to to assess your knowledge of using technology.
Assess your knowledge of emergency management and technology. (Determine where you need to concentrate your effort.)

What You’ll Learn in This Chapter

  • The definitions of focusing events and windows of opportunity
  • The types of technology as applied to the emergency management process
  • How technology can assist in emergency preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery

After Studying This Chapter, You’ll Be Able To

  • Examine what technology is used in emergency management.
  • Examine what technology tools have been applied during disasters.
  • How focusing events can be used to gain community support for greater emergency management resources.

Goals and Outcomes

  • To be able to select technology that improves disaster preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery
  • To perform a comprehensive technology needs assessment for emergency management
  • To understand the value of encouraging a community to commit greater resources toward emergency management by using focusing events and the needs assessment


We live in a highly connected global community where we have the potential to observe the nature and extent of disasters firsthand. We can receive and transmit information within seconds and can communicate from anywhere, at any time, and anyplace. Technology allows those engaged in emergency management to utilize resources from local, regional, and national organizations reflecting public, private, and nonprofit entities (Hodgkinson and Stewart, 1991). Technology may be used by those involved in emergency management in decision making, communication, hazard situational awareness, operational functioning, and public safety. Technologies have been developing at a fast pace and have had a dramatic impact on emergency management in communities, at regional and national levels.
We can only imagine the new ways that technology will evolve and be used in the future. Technology has allowed us to use a broader range of information resources and enhance resource acquisition and allocation. We, thus, have been able to make use of new tools and technologies and become more efficient and allow the public, public safety, and healthcare personnel to anticipate ad meet community needs in disasters (Cutter et al., 2015). Technology has enabled us to better analyze complex issues, enhance our decision making, and communicate in times of crisis. The key is to recognize that technology is critical in all stages of disaster management and supporting rapid scientific assessment of usable knowledge to decision makers (Alcántara‐Ayala et al., 2015).

1.1 Technology and Disaster Management

Emergencies and disasters are extreme events that cause significant disruption. Effective response efforts in a disaster require timely information and deliberate decision making. Effective action requires coordinated application of resources, facilities, and efforts beyond those regularly available to handle routine problems. Disasters arise from both natural and human‐caused events. Fortunately, we now have more technology tools and systems available for our use than ever before so that communities, organizations, and individuals manage effectively in a disaster. Technology provides a means of applying scientific concepts, methods, and principles to achieve desired outcomes (NRENaissance Committee, 1994). Technology supports the emergency management process including the following:
  • Organizational and personal communication;
  • Timely observations of the nature and extent of events;
  • Enhancement in capabilities to estimate and model potential outcomes of disaster events;
  • Recording the changing nature of response and recovery events;
  • Communicating with multiple organizations and individuals simultaneously;
  • Analyzing events to understand how disasters evolve and change over time;
  • Connecting individuals and organizations so as to enhance communication;
  • Extending how public and private organizations may access information as disaster evolve;
  • Using mapping and geo‐positioning systems (GPSs) to support situational awareness; and
  • Taking advantage of hazard modeling technology to enhance our understanding of both the threats associated with hazards and their potential impacts.
Technology enables individuals and organizations to contribute to the emergency management process in new ways and with productive impacts (Kara‐Zaitri, 1996). For example, we can identify the location of those in need for timely and effective emergency response. We can communicate simultaneously with multiple partners to enhance our capacity to cope with evolving complex situations. We have the tools not only to communicate with an unlimited audience but also to engage this audience in community and organizational decision making. Technologies allow both individuals and organizations to communicate and share information and make informed decisions as a disaster unfolds (Fischer, 1998). We can incorporate new information with existing data and visualize our analysis results in different and useful forms (Steering Committee, 1996). Technologies thus allow us to expand our individual and organizational capacities to more effectively prepare, mitigate, respond, and recover from disasters. Science‐driven applications of technology allow disaster risk management to help communities become more resilient and reduce the human and economic impacts of disasters (Alcántara‐Ayala et al., 2015).

1.1.1 Focus on Current and Emerging Technology

Alcántara‐Ayala et al. (2015) suggest that there is a lack of a comprehensive assessment of disasters limiting our understanding of disaster risk research, practice, and experience. This text is intended to examine the current state of technology and emergency management and clarify how technology may be used to support those engaged in all phases of disaster management.
Technologies are being used in innovative ways and are impacting our capacity to manage effectively in times of crisis (Cutter et al., 2015; Hodgkinson and Stewart, 1991). Becoming more aware of the application of technology in emergency management allows individual citizens and organizations to cope in times of crisis and minimize or avoid the adverse effects of disasters.
Research on the weather–climate nexus has also advanced our understanding of the global oceanic forcing of drought and flood conditions across continents. Public health surveillance systems and disease outbreak detection have been enhanced with the use of the Internet and social media such as Twitter, providing real or near‐real time health surveillance (Brownstein et al., 2009; Chunara et al., 2013).
Despite our great success in understanding of the dynamics and processes behind hazards, there are still many challenges related to hazards science. Specifically, we need to reduce uncertainties in forecasting of hazard events, local resolution of models, and prediction of lead time, among others (Alcántara‐Ayala et al., 2015). Technology provides us with many tools and resources to allow us to reduce uncertainties.
In this chapter, we will gain insights on how technology contributes to the emergency management process and how to prioritize what technology tools are needed, and understand what resources are required for the effective use of technology.

1.2 Technology as a Management Tool

We use technology to manage our personal time and our organization. We also use technology to manage disasters and hazards. Hazards are events or conditions that have the potential to create loss. Technology can be used to prepare for...

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