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Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management


 Improving Disaster Management: The Role of IT in Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery This report examines information technology's as-yet unrealized potential to improve how communities and the nation handle disasters and describes payoffs for disaster management that include more robust and interoperable communications, improved situational awareness and decision support, greater organizational agility, and enhanced engagement of the public.
 Summary of a Workshop on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management This report summarizes remarks at a June 22-23, 2005, workshop by representatives of federal, state, and local government agencies, private industry, and the research community on the present state of the art and practice and future opportunities to harness information technology to aid in the management of natural and human-made disasters.

Project Scope

The aftermath of the recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico has dramatically heightened awareness of the role of effective communications in managing such disasters. The NRC is in the process of studying this issue for FEMA as a result of language that appeared in the E-government Act of 2002. The study is examining the use of information technology (IT) to enhance preparedness, response, and consequence management of natural and human caused disasters.

In the first phase of this study, a workshop was held June 22-23, 2005, to provide an information base from the perspective of federal, state, and local officials, diaster management experts, and information technology researchers. The workshop, and the committee's report summarizing it, focuses on the critical and evolving role of and research directions for IT in disaster management; and on collaboration, coordination, and interoperability issues.

In phase 2 of its study, the committee will supplement the inputs received at the workshop with information gathered at several site visits and a series of additional briefings. The committee received additional briefings and conducted a site visit at its September 20-21, 2005, meeting in Washington, D.C, followed by an initial round of deliberations on conclusions and recommendations. Additional meetings to include briefings, site visits, and committee deliberations are scheduled for Dec. 12-14, 2005 (San Diego, Ca.), January 26-27, 2005 (Irvine, Ca.), and May 1-3 (Washington, D.C.). Phase 2 will culminate in the NRC’s final report, to be released in Fall 2006, that provides findings and recommendations on requirements for effective use of information technology for disaster management, research and development needs and opportunities, and related research management and technology transition considerations.

Committee Members

Ramesh Rao, chair
Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of California, San Diego

Yigal Arens
Director, Intelligent Systems Division
University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute

Art Botterell
Community Warning System Manager
Office of the Sheriff, Emergency Services Division
County of Contra Costa, California

Timothy X. Brown
Associate Professor
University of Colorado, Boulder

John R. Harrald
Director, The George Washington University (GWU) Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management
Professor of Engineering Management, GWU School of Engineering and Applied Science

Richard Howard
Researcher, Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB)
Rutgers University

Nancy Jesuale
NetCity Engineering Inc.

David Kehrlein
Environmental Science Research Institute (ESRI)


Jon Eisenberg, Director of CSTB and Study Director
Ted Schmitt, Program Officer
Gloria Westbrook, Senior Program Assistant

Related Publications from Other CSTB Projects

Getting Up To Speed: The Future of Supercomputing (2004)
Information Technology for Counterterrorism: Immediate Actions and Future Possibilities (2003)
Cybersecurity of Freight Information Systems: A Scoping Study (2003)
IT Roadmap to a Geospatial Future (2002)
Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government (2002)
Information Technology Research for Crisis Management (1999)
Computing and Communications in the Extreme: Research for Crisis Management and Other Applications (1996)


Federal Emergency Management Agency


William Maheu
Executive Assistant Chief of Police
San Diego Police Department

Robin R. Murphy
Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
University of South Florida

Robert Neches
Director, Distributed Scalable Systems Division
University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute

Masanobu Shinozuka
Distinguished Professor
University of California, Irvine

Ellis Stanley
General Manager, Emergency Preparedness Department
City of Los Angeles

Peter Steenkiste
Professor of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University

Gio Wiederhold
Professor of Computer Science
Stanford University