Data In Disaster

If done right, data analytics prepares for the unexpected by opening up new ways to make predictions more reliable

Part of human nature may be the will to dominate nature: to tame its fire, direct its waters, harvest its air and light. In certain areas of life this might be more or less successful – for example, as far as the use of modern technologies for renewable energies is concerned. Indeed, the elements can be used to a certain extent, but at some point natural forces become unpredictable and incalculable: earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, droughts, and floods have their own rules.

Really unpredictable? Just take a brief look at Mongolia, 

where pastoral farming communities have seen dramatic changes in the past 20 years, especially in the strength and frequency of so-called zuds, severe, blistering winters often preceded by drought, resulting in insufficient pasture and hay production in the summer.

Since the year 2000 more than 20 million head of livestock have perished in zuds – an existentially threatening force of nature for more than 300,000 households, with far-reaching consequences, such as limited access to health care, education, and government support. How could data intelligence help? With a tiny little device, that most herders can hold in their hands.

PDF Data In Disaster

Desi Anderson, Field Innovation Teams „chief wrangler“

Faced with an enormous challenge, such as during and after a disaster, a lot of data from news, social media, and conversation is informally passed along by first responders,

survivors, and the community, says Desiree Matel-Anderson. She calls herself the „chief wrangler“ of the Field Innovation Team, FIT, whose volunteers from across the globe not only deploy to disasters but also work on disaster risk reduction and resiliency efforts. „It’s important to verify the information and fact-check. An example is what our team did during the Boston Marathon bombings – our Canadian teammates checked news media, social media, and on-the-ground information to verify the data and then help responders, including the FIT members on the ground during the bombings, who were helping to set up the emergency operations center.“


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