Disaster Management Manual
A manual for practitioners and decision makers!

You are here

4.2 Disaster Information Management

Disaster management activities that impact road users are triggered by the sharing of disaster information. The quality of the information provided to road users governs the quality of the subsequent disaster management. In disaster management, information management and communication should be part of planned design and execution, and be integral to an organization’s risk and disaster management plans. Improvised communication can be costly and have unsatisfactory results.

Figure 4.2-1 Role of Information Management in Disaster Management

In the 2010 Chile earthquake, a wide area of Chile’s coastal area was devastated by the giant tsunami that followed the earthquake. From the viewpoint of information management, a crucial tsunami warning system failed to alert residents to the fact that they were in the path of an incoming giant wave 1. In the 2011 East Japan Earthquake, 40% of the drivers traveling on highways at the time of the earthquake continued their driving even though they recognized the VMS signs of “STOP” or ”Earthquake Road Closure” or information about a tsunami coming from radio or other media 2. In the 2011 East Japan Earthquake, maps of passable roads delivered from car manufacturers, the web, and social media contributed to the disaster activities in the hazard region 3. As described above, information management took a main role in disaster management and current information technologies have created a new area of disaster management.

Countries that experience disasters have developed their unique management technologies based on their disaster experiences. Diverse knowledge exchange has been undertaken to share these disaster management technologies. An emerging trend is to review traditional disaster management, with its focus on making infrastructure safe, as this limits the mitigation and reduction of the impacts of disasters. According to current experiences, public engagement and public involvement activities have become an important part of infrastructure development and disaster management. Disaster management now pays more attention to disaster management activities with the public and the society 4.

In the 2011 Queensland floods, a wide area of eastern Australia was significantly impacted by three months of consecutive flood events. According to the lessons learned from this flood, the local government leads major campaigns to engage local communities and encourage individuals to be active in preparedness for the storm season 5. As one of the lessons learned from the 2011 East Japan earthquake, a lot of the residents survived on the highway embankment in the low-lying area. Now highway companies and local residents have made an agreement to promote cooperation in daily maintenance of the highway embankment and in disaster rescue in a tsunami disaster 6.

To encourage the sharing and implementation of disaster management technologies and practices, an easily accessible, web-based risk and disaster management database has been requested. A lot of previous PIARC activities related to disaster management have been compiled. In order to promote the dissemination of this important information, PIARC developed a “risk and disaster management manual” that is available on the web. This report covers the outline of the manual.

Information is the most valuable commodity during disasters. It is what everyone needs to make decisions. Information is an essential aspect in an organization’s ability to gain (or lose) visibility and credibility. Above all, it is necessary for rapid and effective response for the areas affected by a disaster.

Public communication and media relations have become key elements in efficient disaster management. Response operations must be accompanied by good public communication and information strategies that take all stakeholders into account.

With the unprecedented increase in mobile telecommunications and social media which can instantaneously convey a huge amount of important information to road users, management of disaster information to road users plays a very important role in disaster management. Therefore, advanced technology to provide timely and accurate information management, in the pre-event and disaster phases, is critical to effective management of disasters in order to reduce or prevent primary, secondary, or subsequent disaster impacts to road users.

Disaster-prone countries have developed their unique management technologies based on their disaster experiences. In order to share these technologies, knowledge exchange forums have been developed. Current trends in disaster management include an emerging realization that paying more attention to the disaster management activities and their interaction with the public and society produces better results. This compares to the traditional disaster management approach of prioritizing making infrastructure safe. Moreover, encouraging the sharing of disaster management technologies including information management using a web-based platform provides easily accessible risk and disaster management data. This helps those countries with fewer resources to avoid the costly technology research and development phase and go straight to implementing proven technologies where they will have the greatest impact.

Reference sources

No reference sources found.