Technology Meets Natural Disasters

We have seen how technology has advanced drastically over the years in all areas of our lives—from how we communicate, to doing business and in reporting natural disasters. Less than 20 years ago, people would not have been able to make informed decisions about preparing for tropical storms. But today, digital transformation tools, such as machine learning, not only predict the storm, but also predict the outcome and effects.

The Miami Herald reports: “For hurricane preparation and surviving the aftermath, there’s a whole new, real-time world of information, with 24/7 media websites including MiamiHerald.com; weather and Federal Emergency Management Agency apps; email from municipalities; and social media to spread the word.”

The rise of digital technology has made contacting people through social media a substantial tool for victims of natural disasters to use. People can simply post about their location, alerting authorities where help is needed.

With the help of apps, drones, and other smart technology, we can pinpoint problems and speed recovery. Experts get the lights back on, cellphones ringing, and internet connections restored faster than ever.

Hosting social platforms through digital devices has been a valuable tool as seen during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Hurricane victims with OnStar-equipped vehicles were able to connect with trained advisors who provided, at no charge, access to emergency services like routing to shelters, personal calling to family and friends, and in-vehicle Wi-Fi service.

As we all know, having strong signals are important when you’re dealing with massive destruction. Prior to the storm, Verizon geared up for disaster and prepared its networks to handle the mass amount of data that would be transmitted to customers. Comcast also opened more than 137,000 Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots throughout Florida to anyone who needed them, including non-Xfinity customers, for free.

With these new technologies, we are seeing another stage of emergency management. This new stage balances the historical approach to emergency management with the potential of technology to unify resources and adapt plans in real time.

Anheuser-Busch was able to instantly pause their beer production in order to send 155,000 cans of drinking water to those affected by Hurricane Harvey and mobilized its resources in preparation for the potential impacts of Hurricane Irma, sending over 310,000 cans to Florida.

“Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations,” said Bill Bradley, the company’s vice president of community affairs.

What’s next for digital transformation and disasters?

Experts are working on using more drones in the future to assist in hurricane relief. These devices can be mobile in the sky and transmit live feeds to command centers during the aftermath of the emergency.

Using this form of technology provides crews with real-time information that can further help officials make accurate and efficient decisions.

Experts predict that we are heading toward a “digital industrial revolution” that makes the role of IT leaders and management more important than ever before. So many tools, such as mobile, social, and cloud, are being integrated into different industries as we rely on technology for communication. The convergence is the foundation of the new digital world. It is important to mold our systems to be agile and ready to take on emergencies when they present themselves.

GP Strategies Corporation

GP Strategies is a global performance improvement solutions provider of sales and technical training, e-Learning solutions, management consulting and engineering services. GP Strategies' solutions improve the effectiveness of organizations by delivering innovative and superior training, consulting and business improvement services, customized to meet the specific needs of its clients. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, manufacturing, process and energy industries, and other commercial and government customers.

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