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Summary of a Workshop on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management

Section 214 of the E-government Act of 2002 called on the Administrator of the Office of Electronic Government in the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to "ensure that a study is conducted on using information technology to enhance crisis preparedness, response, and consequence management of natural and manmade disasters." The section cited as a goal "to improve how information technology is used in coordinating and facilitating information on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, while ensuring the availability of such information across multiple access channels." In early 2005, FEMA, via a subcontract through Battelle Memorial Institute, asked the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake a two-phase study on these issues. Summary of a Workshop on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management culminates phase 1 of the project. CSTB established the Committee on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management, and a public workshop was held under the committee's auspices on June 22-23, 2005. The committee's goal for the workshop was to establish a base of information for its study by hearing about present and future uses of IT from the perspective of federal, state, and local disaster management officials and users together with a sampling of relevant IT research and development activities. A variety of representatives of federal, state, and local government agencies, private industry, and the research community participated. Panelists at the workshop presented a range of views on the present state of the art and practice and future opportunities to harness information technology to aid in the management of natural and human-made disasters. This report summarizes some of the key points made by workshop participants. This report also contains the workshop agenda and includes biographical information for committee members and staff. In phase 2 of its study, the committee will supplement the inputs received at the workshop with information gathered at several site visits and a series of additional briefings. Phase 2 will culminate in a final report, expected in spring 2006, which provides findings and recommendations on requirements for effective use of information technology for disaster management, research and development needs and opportunities, and related research management and technology transition considerations.

Creating a feedback loop among those who use, acquire, implement, and
develop technology is critical to both the development of useful capabilities and
their successful adoption. Exercises, drills, live simulations (such as those
employed by ...