Technology and Coping with Disaster

Technology and Coping with Disaster

Natural disasters come in many shapes. From the incomprehensible carnage of last weekend’s tsunami in the Indian Ocean, to hurricanes and typhoons, to tornadoes and drought, our world deals with the horror of disaster as a normal part of our lives. Throw in a bit of human influence through wars, terrorism, or the threat of

weapons of mass destruction, and our need to deal with and overcome calamity almost becomes routine.

Watching CNN and the news channels gives a near real-time view of disasters. While some may find this a bit macabre, it also shows our ability to quickly respond to major events, on a global scale. The same technologies that allow us to view the aftermath of a tsunami also allow us to quickly gather factual data on the extent of a disaster, and use that for disaster planning and response.

Organizations such as the Pacific Disaster Center (, the Asia Pacific Area Network (, try to assist regional nations to build better disaster planning models and response model through training and timely dissemination of critical information. Regional military organizations participate with each other on joint disaster planning (for other than wartime-related disaster) to organize their resources in response to a regional disaster, and can respond within hours to major problems.

While carnage on the scale of the Indian Ocean tsunami cannot be controlled within a day or a few days, the communications and real time information collection on the disaster will most certainly reduce the level of misery experienced by victims at a level that would not have been possible even 40 years ago. As aircraft and on-site persons (using satellite phones or other powerful mobile communicators) collect information on areas of Sumatra, Thailand, and other affected areas, the information is almost immediately being logged, evaluated, distributed, and prioritized among a number of emergency response centers operated by regional governments – as well as international relief agencies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *