Importance of new technologies during natural disasters

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Importance of new technologies during natural disasters

            Natural disasters have adverse effects on the earth and the general population. A natural disaster has numerous negative implications such as loss of lives and property, economic damages and severe environmental damages. Some of these natural disasters include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, floods, tsunami and other geologic processes. Modern technology seeks to prevent and alter the effects of these disasters. The integration of new technology is instrumental in disaster prevention and management. Technological advancements have also helped countries improve on their disaster preparation.

Modern technology assists in the rapid detection and identification of possible natural disasters. Through detection, the natural disasters are easily identified, and the areas to be affected are able to apply various methodologies to reduce the effects of the disaster on population and property. This allows for early disaster management. Modern Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers are usually connected to video and digital cameras to aid in the collection of data on buildings and other elements that are at risk. Geographic coordinates are used to link field information to the corresponding area of the satellite image.

This supports interpretation and classification of occurrence of natural disasters. GPS speeds up the initial evaluation of earthquakes separate from traditional measuring methods such as seismometers. It allows for the estimation of magnitude and slip. The GPS approach records data from previous earthquakes but not those that are in progress. Therefore, the method can lead to earlier warnings of impending earthquakes. This helps to allow emergency personnel have a quick response towards damaged zones. GPS also assists to determine where there is crust movement and the area that is prone to the greatest damage.

Early disaster identification also prevents the widespread impact of the disaster. The primary element of mitigating the adverse effects of a disaster is preparation. After periods of disaster, governments and local administration are tasked with bringing the state back to the initial condition. This causes increased financial and labor constraints. Therefore, technology that predicts disaster averts such situational and occupational hazards. For instance, after Hurricane Katrina, the treatment of patients proved difficult because the medical practitioners were unaware of the victim’s medical history. In addition, 1800 people were killed by hurricane Katrina. However, hurricane Ike killed close to 30 people because the government used technology to warn and evacuate people ahead of time.

Technological advancements also help to establish suitable disaster warning systems among the general population. GIS is an essential tool for the efficient manipulation and storage of data that are remotely sensed. In addition, it is used for spatial and non-spatial data for policy oriented information and scientific management. This is used to facilitate the mapping, measurement, modeling and monitoring of various data types that are related to natural phenomena. Hazard maps and Threat maps are used to assess floods, landslides, earthquake and other meteorological aspects. These data is provided to the general population to warn of disasters such as drought, earthquake and floods. This helps in the development of suitable warning systems towards disaster preparedness. India has incorporated these technologies in public disaster communication minimizing the overall consequences of disasters.

Technological innovation is instrumental in understanding the vulnerability of particular regions in relation to natural disasters. Vulnerability refers to the physical and geographic characteristics of a zone that make it likely to be affected by natural disasters. The study and analysis of the level of vulnerability assists in the formulation of programs for disaster preparation. For instance, regions that experience high volcanic activity are likely to have earthquakes, pyroclastic fall and tephra fall. These countries include Tenerife, Azores and Caribbean. Vulnerability is measured using various technologies such as satellites, field equipment that uses GPS technology and computer software. For instance, Philippines has high vulnerability levels in storms, earthquakes and tropical cyclones. With this knowledge, the state has improved on disaster preparation.

Contemporary technology is used in the formulation of an early warning system for natural disasters. This system incorporates elements of disaster detection and prediction in order to culminate in a suitable disaster warning system. The disasters are detected in terms of time, type, speed, direction, magnitude and the expected physical area to be affected. The early warnings are transmitted via a wide array of microprocessor controllers/receiver that is embedded in consumer and commercial devices that are used regularly. This creates a universal standard for the reception of warnings. Therefore, there is an effective and efficient disaster warning approach for users.

The technology allows for dissemination of information to all statutory and mobile devices that have the capability of receiving early signals that warn of impending disaster. Direct early warnings are provided to particular receivers that are at risk of danger and disaster. In addition, groups, which pose great danger to natural disaster as determined by geographic information and current location, are also given primary consideration. This system minimizes unnecessary and false disaster warnings. Therefore, the receiver has confidence in the necessity to undertake the initiative to carry out effective and efficient mitigation action on the onset of a natural disaster. Through this approach, fewer deaths are recorded during disasters.

New technologies also allow better planning and policies natural disaster management. The integration of technology helps governments and administration to have proper planning methodologies towards containing disasters. In addition, laws and policies are formulated from the technological information collected from disasters. Floods occur in the global scene to account for one-third of the total losses that result form natural disasters. In 2010, floods were the most frequent natural disaster affecting 178 million people. The countries that are mainly affected by floods have held conferences and gathering to mitigate the effects of the calamity.

Some of these policies include better service delivery to farmers and financing the integration of forecasting technology and research. In efforts to predict these disasters, scientists have turned their attention towards open data that give evidence-based analytical approaches. Accordingly, mapping is undertaken for the purpose of planning and showing the regions in which disasters might have the greatest impact. These approaches are used by government departments in disaster response to formulate suitable policies that will aid in short-term and long-term methodologies, in disaster management. The use of technology by government in planning and emergency response has reduced the overall financial costs incurred during disaster management. The Geo-Node platform has helped people in the Caribbean to make better decisions and policies in relation to disaster management.

One of the major hurdles during disasters is the response mechanism. Disaster response programs have integrated technology in order to ensure effectiveness. After disaster, communication, transport and other areas of connection are usually disconnected or unreliable. However, technology seeks to change these discrepancies and ensure that disaster response is made easier and reaches out to all the affected groups of people. Access to information is equally important to the access to food and water for many of the victims. For instance, mobile technologies assist affected populations during a disaster to be identified. In addition, emergency teams are able to keep track of the total number of deaths, victims and the total number of people affected.

Disaster affected populations are steadily adopting mobile technologies for disaster response. Through these technologies, the affected people are extensively able to source, generate and share a vast amount of relevant information. This has led to significant transformations in disaster response. Within 48 hours of the earthquake that had stricken Port-au-prince in Haiti, in 2010, the aid emergency organizations had already established a short SMS code to outsource information. Through this technology, the overall needs of the disaster-hit population were met. In addition, the victims could be tracked and the sick hospitalized.

Technological advancements also provide vital information on the occurrence and impact of natural disasters. This set of information is useful in the determination and assessment of the impact of the disaster on the social and economic development of the affected state. The technology can be in the form of software suited towards disaster statistics and the internet. This information is also used in the prediction of future consequences of a similar disaster. Governments are therefore able to establish proper planning methodologies in disaster management. For instance, the mobile technology used in Haiti helped to provide a live crisis map. This proved to be most up-to-date and comprehensive information for the government and humanitarian groups. Live crisis maps are crucial during disaster response as they are essential in the provision of real time situational awareness and information for future disaster response. The ultimate result is a significant change in disaster management.

In conclusion, modern technology is fundamental in the development of policies and disaster management. In the past years, there have been numerous disasters such as the Japanese earthquake, the Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, floods across the globe and the recent Hurricane Sandy in New York. It is necessary for research to integrate technology to find the main cause of these disasters. Some disasters have also been discovered to be caused indirectly be manmade activities that cause climate change leading to natural disasters. The comprehensive solution to effective disaster preparation and management is technology.



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