The use of technology in disaster response situations

Whether it's an earthquake, an incidence of workplace violence or a riot, when an emergency strikes it's vital for responders to be able to stay on top of the latest updates. They need to be briefed about the situation before arrival, and rely on real-time updates to know how to direct the public into the safest positions when applicable. To accomplish these tasks, many emergency response teams rely on public safety technology including disaster preparedness apps and cloud storage solutions in areas without workable infrastructure. But is this type of technology really making a difference on the ground? Here's a look at the technology used in a typical disaster response situation.

Emergency Services (PD)

The Role of Technology

The role of technology in a disaster scenario is to keep individuals connected so that they can work as a team. This can end up saving lives, and is transforming the way that emergency management works. When a natural disaster or other emergency strikes, one of the first things to go is generally network connectivity, which can make citizens feel cut off from the world. Public safety technology is concerned with restoring these networks, enabling responders to make their rescue missions more efficient without any wasted time, and connect survivors with their communities. After an emergency, technology is also used to gather and analyse data in order to formulate a more efficient response next time.

Public Safety Apps

One of the most basic examples of technology being used in an emergency situation is in the host of public safety and preparedness apps that are available, both to citizens and to responders. Disaster preparedness is extremely important to prevent the loss of life, so apps like Preparis which allow a business to create an emergency plan can help save lives. Most major organizations have their own apps to help responders coordinate their plan, including the Red Cross, FEMA, and the United Nations, among others.

Portable Networks and Cloud Computing

Whether it's a terrorist attack or a hurricane, when disaster strikes the local infrastructure can be overloaded or wiped out completely. As a result one of the first orders of business is to secure the network to enable communication. Telco companies like Nokia Networks can create portable networks for situations like this, and the cloud has had a major impact on the effectiveness of emergency management. Cloud computing allows data to be stored far from the emergency zone, and can be scaled up or down as needed to keep agencies connected.

The Bottom Line

Tools like cloud storage and mobile apps have greatly benefited emergency relief organizations over the past decade. They allow emergency management efforts to be better coordinated and more efficient. Yet perhaps the greatest use of this technology occurs after the fact, when data can be gathered to help prevent similar disasters and act more proactively. In the past, we had to rely on news reports and phone calls to provide updates, while now it's possible to get information immediately. Survivors can check in with loved ones without overloading the networks, and data can also be shared more widely in real-time updates with those who need it most – the survivors on the ground.

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