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Smart Disaster Management: How Technology Is Redefining Emergency Response

Every year, natural disasters result in the loss of 67, 000 lives. However, advances in technology are ushering in a new era of “smart” disaster management. This approach leverages a range of innovative technologies, including: 

The Rise of IoT in Disaster Preparedness 

Sensors embedded in infrastructure and the environment provide real-time data on flood levels, fire risks, etc. 

California, for example, has sensors placed throughout high-risk areas (thermal cameras, air quality sensors, wind speed sensors, and moisture sensors) to combat wildfires. 

Big Data Analytics: A Game Changer 

Massive datasets are analysed to predict potential disasters, identify vulnerable areas, and optimise resource allocation. 

In 2017, Texas used social media data to report flooding, damage, and requests for help. They also used location data within social media posts to pinpoint areas with the most severe flooding and identify rescue needs. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Predicting and Acting 

AI algorithms can process vast amounts of data to identify patterns, predict disaster impact, and even automate emergency response measures. 

In India, for example, the Institute of Technology Bombay developed a flood prediction model using AI to predict floods, specify high-risk areas, and react faster to disasters. 

Drones and Robotics: On the Front Lines 

These unmanned vehicles can be deployed for search and rescue operations, damage assessment, and delivering aid in hazardous zones. 

Japan, which faces high risks in tsunamis, use small drones with thermal cameras to aid in search-and-rescue and deliver supplies. 

Leaders in Smart Disaster Management 

Currently, several companies and organisations are at the forefront of smart disaster management: 

  • IBM offers its “Maximo for Public Safety” platform, which integrates data from various sources to enhance emergency response coordination. 
  • Cisco provides its “Emergency Response Communication System” to facilitate real-time communication during disasters. 
  • The World Bank’s “Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery” funds projects that utilize innovative technologies for disaster preparedness. 

What’s Next in Managing Disasters? 

As technology gets better, our ability to manage disasters improves too. With AI, IoT, and big data, we can not only respond to disasters but also predict them before they happen, potentially saving many lives. 

These technologies make it easier to plan, react quickly, and recover from disasters, helping communities to stay safe and bounce back faster.