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Jen Q. Public: Applying analytics for emergency preparedness

Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics

May 14, 9:01 p.m. 

Dear diary,

It's been raining cats, dogs, elephants and zebras—the entire zoo, actually. One of the staffers even came in "ready" for a flood. But I will take the rain. Though the tornado sirens went off last weekend, we were spared any major damage in our neighborhood. Judging from CNN news reports, however, many people weren’t as lucky and are still reeling from the more than 70 tornadoes that touched down this past weekend, leaving death and destruction in their wake. I can only begin to imagine the task at hand and the resources needed by emergency management crews as they help bring back some semblance of normalcy to the central states of the U.S. Damages in the city of Van, Texas alone are expected to be in the tens of millions of U.S. dollars. 

Just a couple of weeks ago Stephen Russo, director of public safety, law enforcement and emergency management solutions at IBM, said we need an integrated command, control and communication (C3) solution “to streamline and integrate preparation, response, recovery and mitigation of the daily set of unexpected incidents as well as emergencies and disasters.” I agree completely with Russo, especially when yet another earthquake struck Nepal this past Tuesday. Reports indicate that scientists were trying to gather geological data from the first earthquake as quickly as they could to help predict and prepare for future earthquakes. 

Clearly, cities, agencies, governments and nations need to collectively gather and aggregate existing and future disaster data—from historical event information to sensor data, system status and video. And they need to not just collect the data, but also to then apply sophisticated analytics to automatically analyze the data and provide intelligent insights into key performance indicators and trends. Though we may not be able to prevent these natural disasters, innovative emergency management solutions employing advanced analytics capabilities can help reduce the response time. By using existing resources productively, real-time access to quality data can reduce direct costs.

Hoping for a prepared tomorrow, 

Jen Q. Public

Stay prepared with 21st century emergency management.