All Blog Posts

How can tech aid disaster management?

Mother nature has proven to be very unpredictable. Check out our latest blog to learn about why disaster preparedness is so very important and the tech that is out there to support it.

3 min read

News

ARC disaster blogpost image

Having been at the agency for years, I have always been passionate about championing technology to aid disaster preparedness. Now, having moved from the UK to the US, I’ve experienced the very real threat of an impending disaster.

Far too many lives are lost each year due to natural disasters and the more people that are informed and aware of the technology available to them if the worst case scenario happens, the better! Having these life-saving apps at my fingertips enables me to feel at ease knowing my family and I are covered for any contingency.

What is the role of technology in disaster management?

In a year, the USA can experience a multitude of disastrous events that can lead to devastation across the country. Disaster management technology can come to the rescue, not only responding to emergencies and disasters when they happen but preparing communities, by educating them on the best ways to prepare. One of the most effective ways we’ve seen this done is with a mobile app.

When disaster strikes, apps can save lives.

As climate change has rapidly become one of the world’s biggest problems, global organisations, passionate individuals and sustainable nations have all come together to combat the negative impact we’re having on our environment. Which is why the concept of disaster preparedness is so vital now more than ever. But what exactly is disaster preparedness and why is it so important? The IFRC describe it best by saying:

“Disaster preparedness is preparing for disasters to save countless lives, speed up people’s recovery and save money. We support National Societies to continually improve their local preparedness and response capacity—ultimately preventing and reducing the impacts of disasters on communities.”

What disaster management means at Cube

As climate change worsens, so do the frequency of these catastrophic events. So all of us at 3 Sided Cube have been passionate about getting technology into people’s hands that not only helps them prepare for, but respond to and recover from such an event.

Mother nature can be devastating.

Our dedicated team of Cubies in the UK know this and work tirelessly to make sure our platform and suite of apps are constantly ready to respond should disaster strike. It’s a responsibility the entire team takes very seriously and a project I have been really proud to be a part of all these years. And I gotta say, as much as I have always appreciated the enormity of the life saving tools our apps provide, now living in the USA and depending on those very apps to keep my family and I safe, I see the absolute necessity of technology like this being reliable and easily accessible to those who need it most.

I’ve had the American Red Cross Emergency App on my phone for years, but never needed it, until I moved across the pond. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate having the safety blanket of this app. Having woken up to a few disaster alerts, I’ve truly appreciated the comfort the emergency app brings. Nothing gets your heart racing more than seeing that alert pop up, but because I know it’s there I can sleep well knowing my family will have that life-saving alert should disaster strike!

Stages of disaster management and tech you can use

Every year there are about 354 natural disasters globally, and of those disasters, about 210 million people are affected. Which is just a staggering number! Made even more so by the fact that an average of 68,000 people lose their lives in disasters every single year. 

That number is heartbreaking in itself, but the good news is, that number is reducing! Throughout history, statistics show that number has been steadily decreasing in the last century. It’s no coincidence that is happening the same time that technology is advancing. We can’t stop these high impact, low-frequency events from happening, but we can minimise the number of people that lose their lives because of them.

There are four key stages to disaster management as you can see from the graph below, however our work concentrates on three areas. Which are:

  • Preparedness
  • Response
  • Recovery
Disaster Management Cycle
Source: University of Wisconsin Green Bay

Preparedness

With disaster management, it’s the kind of thing where you don’t exactly want people training on the job, but rather have them educated and well equipped to thrive in any circumstance! Virtual reality is such a great way for people to prepare and learn skills for something that has yet to happen.

A great example of this is the platform that we partnered with Global Commons Alliance to build. Earth HQ was showcased at COP26, and is a user-friendly and interactive portal that allows the population to understand different climate emergencies through near real-time data. Since its launch in October of 2021, over 30,000 people have used the platform to stay informed on pending climate emergencies through visualization and enabling them to understand the looming crisis.

Another great resource for disaster preparedness is the app we partnered with the Global Disaster Preparedness Center to build a first aid app that could be rolled out to multiple countries across the world. The GDPC wanted to be able to provide simple life saving information that was available just at the right time, so that’s just what we did!

We created a container app that has life saving content available for 45 languages. This means that when the app is downloaded, you can select your location and preferred language to ensure the content is accurate to your region. This native app has meant that GDPC has been able to have incredible reach and given instant offline access to information on how to handle the most common first aid situations, in order to help save lives.

 

Response

Some work that we have been able to do in this area, is providing an app for the American Red Cross to help mitigate the effects of disasters, the Emergency App we built for them does just that. As we have all seen year after year, hurricane season can be brutal, the devastation and lives lost is just unimaginable. 

What we have done with the app is to give people a tool to be alerted and kept safe. Based on what we have seen from the number of people that have downloaded and use the app, there is a huge need for this kind of technology. Last year alone, 443,000+ disaster alerts were sent out throughout hurricane season!

The way that it works is that when a hurricane is due to hit, the app will alert the user that there is a potential danger, and American Red Cross can inform them exactly what they need to do to stay safe. It happens instantaneously and contextually to where the person is at that given moment. Hurricane’s are unpredictable, and this allows for the applicable information to be at someone’s fingertips in the face of uncertainty.

Keeping people safe and informed of the constantly evolving threat, and where to access that valuable emergency aid, if needed, is the biggest impact we could hope to make.

Recovery

This is so important because unlike disasters in decades past, where survivors had to wait days or weeks for any information, they can now use technology to quickly get their bearings on the situation. It is very easy to prepare the prepared, but that isn’t enough. That is why we are working to develop an app with Replus Connect that  leverages human networks, data, and machine intelligence to close the last-mile disaster relief delivery gap and build long-term resilience for underserved communities.

Through a mobile application, they can inform and coordinate collective action across residents, community groups, and humanitarian aid organizations to direct the right responses to the right places at the right time. 

Their solution is an app that enables users to:

Mobilize

Bring residents, local community groups, and humanitarian aid organizations together in one networking platform.

Assess

Crowdsource information on community needs and available resources with actionable insights tailored to user groups.

Coordinate

Facilitate resource allocation and coordination based on community needs, powered by machine and human intelligence.

Report

Track resource allocation and streamline reporting on relief efforts to build trust and demonstrate impact.

Through a mobile application, they can inform and coordinate collective action across residents, community groups, and humanitarian aid organizations to direct the right responses to the right places at the right time. 

 

The future of disaster management and what role can technology play?

Thanks to significant innovation in tech, there are tons of digital solution offerings to sectors that, up until recently, lacked access to technology. The speedy pace of this change shows us that one of technology’s most meaningful benefits for society could lie in the humanitarian sector.  Which means it has to be able to which  reach large numbers of people, in remote and dangerous locations, to provide critical resources fast and efficiently.

From aerial robotics to big data analytics, technology presents the opportunity to expedite the impact of humanitarian relief efforts with better efficiency and responsiveness. This would enable us to reach more people sooner, and save more lives.

As we fine-tune disaster preparedness technology the reach of lives saved grows with each advancement. Here are four ways technology can help us respond to disasters:

  1. Technology can go where people cannot and where rescue efforts puts the lives of responders at risk
  2. Technology breaks down barriers to enable connectivity when we need it most
  3. Mobile solutions, social media and digital communities provide a new way for organizations and their beneficiaries to communicate
  4. Big data analytics creates a new era of intelligence for disaster response

We want people to have access to and utilize this key information before disaster comes knocking at their door. If this blog just made a few more people aware of how vitally important preparedness is, then my job is done!

If you have an idea for life-saving technology, get in touch. We’d love to build tech for good together!

Published on January 26, 2022, last updated on February 1, 2022

Give us the seal of approval!

Like what you read? Let us know.

0

Tags