Slide 9: Technological innovations in emergency management
The starting point in the creation of a plan on how to improve our program from a technological standpoint has been constituted by the review of the it industry. The scope of this research has been that of identifying the innovations in the field and their relevance for our agency and its mission. The results of the research endeavor are briefly presented below:
GIS is an important tool to use in the collection of data necessary and its usage is credited with overall successful emergency operations as it allows the intervention teams to gather data pivotal at all stages of the emergency management process.
Remote sensing technology is enhancing the quality of the emergency management act at the stages of mitigation and preparedness and it has proven efficient in the management of both natural hazards as well as man made disasters.
The NOAAPort C-Band DVB-S satellite downlink system is one of the most efficient means of detecting the risk of severe weather, and it is as such crucial in all states, but even more so in the coastal ones.
In light of these findings, it has been concluded that the technological change at our agency would be focused on three dimensions and the implementation of three specific technologies -- GIS, remote sensing technology and the NOAAPort C-Band DVB-S satellite downlink system.
Slide 10: GIS (geographic information system)
The geographic information system is a collection of software and hardware applications and appliances which collect, store and analyze data. In the words of its creators, GIS "integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.
GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts" (GIS).
The importance of GIS is given by the fact that it collects information which is crucial at all stages of the emergency management process. The need for GIS is given by the need for quick and relevant information. In the case of an emergency, the rescue team needs quick access to information, but this information -- such as maps, routes, alternative entries to hospitals, sewers and so on -- is spread across various parties and its collection requires additional effort and time, neither of which is generally available. This virtually means that rescue teams have to base their actions on estimations, and this would often cause material or even human losses. The GIS technology comes to help by collecting the required data, centralizing it in a single and easily accessible source and presenting the information in a highly efficient manner, which is easily understood by all members of the rescue teams (Johnson, 2000).
Slide 11: Remote sensing technology
Remote sensing refers to the collection of information without actually coming into physical contact with the component elements of the studied phenomenon. "Remote sensing is the science and art of acquiring information (spectral, spatial, temporal) about material objects, area, or phenomenon, without coming into physical contact with the objects, or area, or phenomenon under investigation. Without direct contact, some means of transferring information through space must be utilised. In remote sensing, information transfer is accomplished by use of electromagnetic radiation (EMR)" (GIS Development).
The high resolution coverage used in remote sensing technologies allows for the quick identification of damages, such as damages in infrastructure, including bridges or buildings, which can then help resolve the crisis; the absence of this information can however deepen the emergency. At the level of mitigation and preparedness, remote sensing technologies support development of emergency management by enhancing the quality of inventory development, logistical planning as well as the higher quality assessment of risk and hazard. Once the hazard has occurred, the remote sensing technologies offer "a low-risk method of assessing damage to critical infrastructure and the urban built environment" (Taylor and Vanmarcke, 2006).
Slide 12: The NOAAPort C-Band DVB-S satellite downlink system
he nature of the state's coastal geographic positioning, a severe weather tracking system is crucial in order to identify the formation of storms in the ocean, the direction in which they are headed, their intensity and so on.
Source: Washtenaw County, 2010
One of the most adequate of these systems is the NOAAPort C-Band DVB-S satellite downlink system. "This downlink provides the Emergency Operations Center with a continuous 10 MB/S feed that includes all images generated by the National Weather Service's Doppler radar network, GOES visible, infrared, and water vapor imagery, all forecast models, and all text generated...
This downlink utilizes two 3.7-meter dishes (a primary and a backup), a dual receiver system, a data ingest server and a GEMPAK image processing server... both utilizing dual quad-core processors and 64-bit Linux operating systems. In addition, two isolated servers and a receiver system are set-up and ready to take over should the primary technology ever fail" (Washtenaw County, 2010).
Nevertheless however, in spite of the technical performances it achieves, the NOAAPort C-Band DVB-S satellite downlink system is necessary within our organization due to the high risks of natural hazards. This risk is a leading generator of emergencies in the state and the severe weather tracking system can lead to the minimization of the negative impacts.
Slide 13: Threats emergent from the modern day society
The modern day society is the result of numerous processes of change, one of which has been the above discussed technological evolution. While the advent of technology creates new opportunities in emergency management, there are also other changes which create threats. The agency has identified the most important of these threats and has also come up with solutions to resolving them. In this order of ideas, the most relevant threats of the modern day society refer to the following:
The higher levels of consumption and pollution which lead to the decay of the natural environment and generate environmental instability. Environmental instability has a unique particularity in our state, due to its location on the coast
The incremental pressures from the international arena and the ongoing ideological and cultural war between the West and the East. This specifically materializes in a series of terrorist attract threats, exemplified most relevantly by the attacks on the World Trade Center on the 11th of September 2001.
The incremental pressures and demands from the public opinion, which is now more involved and more critical than ever.
The continued need for more financial resources to support the efforts in the development and implementation of solutions to the previously mentioned threats.
Slide 14: The threat of environmental instability
Despite the fact that, at a general level, the world has significantly evolved throughout the past years, from an environmental standpoint, the world has devolved. The technological evolutions or the increasing living standards have generated higher rates of natural resource consumption, and also higher levels of waste and the adjacent pollution. Natural habitats are decaying; animal and planet life is endangered, and the safety of the human population is also endangered.
All the man made activities which negatively influence the environment generate global warming and pollution, which are in turn responsible for a larger incidence of natural disasters, which leads to the occurrence of emergency situations. The lines below offer some examples as to how environmental instability generates emergency situations:
Environmental instability materializes in alternate periods of droughts and floods, which require special and emergency interventions
Global warming also generates landslides or tsunamis, which lead to emergency situations
Aside form the obvious impacts, the raising global temperatures make it difficult for the firefighters to put out the fire as the warm temperature creates a perfect environment for fires to occur and grow. The fires also destroy the forests and the trees which suck the carbon dioxide and release oxygen. In their absence, fires can last even longer, creating a negative feedback loop, or a vicious circle of negative effects. Global warming is a main cause for the ongoing fires annually witnessed in California (Goodman, 2007).
Slide 15: Environmental instability in coastal countries
Recent studies indicate that global warming generates a wider series of impacts, which had not been initially foreseen. At a particular level, global warming does not only impact life on the surface, but even generates changes in the Earth's geology. And while these effects are expected to eventually impact the entire world, they would be first felt by coastal countries.
The global warming phenomenon increases the temperature across the globe, which leads to proper eruption conditions for volcanoes, which can impact not only the home countries of the volcanoes, but also other parts of the globe, as the force would be transmitted by water and would form tsunamis.
The rising temperatures also create favorable conditions for earthquakes and avalanches. At an…
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