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5 tips for leveraging data for better disaster response

By The Fulcrum Team
February 12, 2020

February is earthquake awareness month and while most of us are reviewing our plans, Puerto Rico and Jamaica have already suffered massive earthquakes, registering tremors as high as 7.7, according to the U.S. Geological Service. Puerto Rico has endured an estimated 950 aftershocks, exacerbating an already fragile situation. The island is still recovering from hurricanes Maria and Irma. Initially, these disasters left more than 250,000 people without power, with many more lacking housing, food, water, and other essentials. Last month, officials found a warehouse full of unused supplies sent to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria over two years ago. This discovery prompted Governor Wanda Vázquez to order an investigation. While the reasons for the oversight of these supplies are still unknown, it highlights the need for process in place that uses data for disaster response to prevent such mistakes in the future.

One of the biggest challenges for emergency management agencies (EMA) involves data collection and analysis. They need this to deploy resources quickly and accurately. Using a mobile data collection platform like Fulcrum helps EMAs report supplies received and distributed. They can do this in real-time or near real-time.

Each natural disaster is unique, making predictions about outcomes or needs difficult. However, mobile technology equips rescue teams to prepare and organize more effectively for these events.

Here are some suggestions to help EMAs and other disaster-response organizations be prepared for the 2020 disaster season:

‍Digitize your forms

Convert your paper forms into mobile apps using a platform like Fulcrum. This process enables filling out forms anywhere, even without an internet connection. It facilitates quick, efficient communication with team members and other agencies. They can view and respond to your data remotely.

‍Develop a list of local hospitals, shelters, and food pantries

Digitize this list so everyone on your team can update and change information. If a hospital is closed, damaged, or full, that information needs to get to your recovery teams immediately.

‍Coordinate with other agencies

Create a ground strategy that allows you to virtually coordinate with other response teams. A regional response app keeps other teams aware when supplies arrive, hospitals close, or shelters open.

‍Map your progress

Map your team’s recovery efforts and coordinate with other teams to make sure all activities and supply deliveries are tied to a location and accessible.

Publish your impact

After recovery, sharing your impact and progress with the public is crucial, especially with government agencies and other organizations. This data informs them about resource allocation and the necessities for complete recovery from the disaster.

Effective organization, coordination, and readily accessible data empower EMAs and disaster-response entities to save both time and lives.

Fulcrum, a low-code/no-code platform, allows organizations to decrease expenses, access essential data in real-time, and enhance decision-making across all levels. With Fulcrum, creating custom apps is straightforward using our drag-and-drop builder. This tool transforms your paper documents into digital forms, which field teams can efficiently complete on mobile devices. Fulcrum Community offers our software at no cost to humanitarian and volunteer disaster-relief organizations.