In time-critical emergency situations (such as floods, earthquakes, forest fires, etc.) decision-makers and first responders require timely and up-to-date information. They need a constantly-updated situational picture to better determine, for example, the extent of the damage, where to safely relocate affected individuals, and what are the most likely scenarios and their inherent risk.
New data collection technologies (e.g. Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Earth Observation, and crowdsourcing) and improved processing capabilities (e.g. cloud computing, Big Data, data fusion) show great promise for innovation in this area. Reliable and timely information could lead to optimised response and/or recovery efforts, potentially saving lives and limiting damages or losses.
Such technologies are equally useful for the purposes of forecasting and warning against natural disasters, enabling authorities and communities to act effectively and in a timely manner to reduce the likelihood of death, injury and damage to property and the environment, as well as set in place mitigation plans. Our work in this field has given us a clear understanding of the information requirements in the Civil Protection and Humanitarian communities, and the need for improved capacities across the disaster management cycle.