Friday, September 25, 2015

GIS as a Disaster Management Tool

In 2010, Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed between 220,000-316,000 and caused tremendous damage to homes and businesses on the island, making it the most deadly natural disaster in the last decade. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Haiti's communication network was destroyed and actionable information was not being communicated effectively.

The USGS, branches of the U.S. Military and FEMA created maps of the earthquake using GIS images to demonstrate where the strongest effects were felt, and later, where the greatest casualties were taken.

The graphics below illustrate how GIS can assist decision makers in appropriating resources during emergencies with the greatest efficiency possible.



  1. Good article, but I would like to know exactly how GIS was used to get the data. Providing background on the event is important, but I think more about GIS needs to be explained.

  2. How exactly is GIS used for emergency disasters? I've seen it mentioned that it is important for flood control, hurricanes and earthquake relief, but disasters like this just cause huge amounts of devastation really quickly. Can GIS help predict when or at what "breaking point" these devastating events will occur? Or is more useful just in making action plans for emergency events?

  3. Hi Egan and Peyton,

    In this case, GIS was used in conjunction with ground level intelligence reports from Seismic services listed in the article and reconnaissance of the area by support and relief agencies. GIS was used for to ascertain the level of damage across the geographic area, which ties into Egan's question:

    "Can GIS help predict when or at what "breaking point" these devastating events will occur? Or is more useful just in making action plans for emergency events?"

    GIS can be useful for both, though seismic activity is rarely a reliable precursor to major earthquakes. However, GIS analysis can be used to determine regions that are particularly active, seismically, and further can be used to illustrate how many events have occurred within a region of analysis.

    As for it's use in making action plans, that's probably understated because we typically want to see "preventative" actions; with some natural disasters, that's possible. With others, like earthquakes, it's typically not. When it's an unexpected event, tools like GIS that can help display the areas with the most dramatic impacts can help on scene decision makers get aid to the most urgent points as quickly as possible.


  4. What information is being shown by GIS graph and how can that help us in the future.

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  6. After GIS was used to map the disaster how was it then communicated to decision makers? What had more influence on where the resources were located the amount of damage to an area or the amount of casualties?