While disasters may be an inevitable fact of life, the extent of devastation they cause can be greatly reduced by effective disaster management. Disaster management is defined as the organization and management of resources and responsibilities that involve all humanitarian aspects of emergencies and crisis.
This includes preparedness, response, and recovery that help in reducing the impact of disasters and this requires the contributions of many different areas — ranging from training and logistics to health care, recovery, livelihood to institutional development.
What best way to manage and track all the resources and staff members (paid and volunteers) than to simply let the asset tracking software do the job efficiently at much less time.
Types of Disasters and impacts
Any threatening event – announced or unannounced can be categorized as a type of disaster. However, here are some of the commonly known natural and technological/man-made hazards:
The effect of any disaster on nearby people, buildings and society, is commonly known as an impact. These impacts are often far-reaching and are likely to span over a couple of years.
For this reason, losses or impacts can be divided into direct and indirect consequences. Both these terms help distinguish between the delayed and immediate effects of a disaster.
- Direct losses refer to losses that result from infrastructural or physical destruction. These include damage asserted by floods, high winds, and earthquakes.
- Indirect impacts are secondary losses that become visible after a disaster has occurred like the losses incurred from business or human life interruption.
The most important step to take after a natural disaster occurs is to account for casualties. Compiling loss estimates through an inventory database comes with a few challenges.
This occurs mainly because the information is obtained from numerous sources and is subject to bias if entered manually. The bias depends on the data source used and also on the disaster to be accounted for. To establish a transparent mechanism of inventory collection, relief agencies opt for automated tracking software.
To handle these complicated jobs, there are dedicated emergency and disaster management companies that send out teams to affected areas on time and provide assistance in a time of crisis.
Interestingly, these organizations are non-profit and earn solid revenues. By 2016, revenues of emergency and other relief services in the United States were projected to reach approximately 8.32 billion U.S. dollars.
The following figure shows the revenue of emergency and other relief services in the United States from 2008 to 2013, with forecasts up until 2020.
Challenges of disaster management
A lack of a reliable equipment tracking system can lead to delays in response time which can be hazardous for disaster management agencies. Due to a high supply of assets needed for rehabilitation, a robust support system is absolutely necessary.
Availability of such a program enables agencies to spend more time on the preparation of a response. To achieve this goal, agencies need to overcome the challenges faced by effective disaster control.
They can be identified as follows:
- Keeping an accurate equipment database: Various types of assets need to be deployed for assistance during disasters. The agency could get in trouble if they don’t monitor how and where their equipment is being used. In order to handle such situations, it is important to know the location and condition of the tools being utilized.
- Sharing inventory information: Sometimes, it isn’t feasible for a single organization to provide support for a large-scale disaster. In these cases, current equipment database needs to be shared with neighboring agencies and volunteering bodies. This is only possible if a streamlined program is used to track all disaster management activities.
- Tracking procurement: Most of the emergency management agencies operate on government grants or funds provided by the public. To maintain credibility in their status, such organizations put in extra effort to maintain a record of all equipment purchased. This comes in handy during audit season and helps attain transparency.
Why you need Asset Tracking Software
Disaster mitigation actions such as clearing debris from landslide areas and containing earthquake-induced fires and waves, and hazardous materials before they can cause additional harm is extremely important. It is for these reasons that it is crucial to always be prepared in the event of both announced and unannounced disasters.
However, if required resources and equipment are unavailable, then mitigating damages is difficult. The dangerous nature of delays in emergency response time can be seen in the case of Katrina, where thousands were left without proper shelter, food, water, and medical supplies while they waited to be rescued.
Ensuring that all resources and equipment are available, up to date and in working condition in the event of a disaster can be a grueling and costly procedure. Managing and keeping track of all equipment manually may require time and resources and by the time the inventory is complete, it may already be out of date.
Asset tracking software provides an efficient way to track these assets and equipment throughout their lifecycle i.e. from the moment they are purchased until they are disposed of.
Situation One: When you need it in preparation time
Disaster preparedness is a continuous and coordinated process which can require a vast variety of actions and does not pertain to one particular set of procedures.
For this reason, you must ensure that you have everything in stock for the next disaster to happen. It can be medical supplies or food items, equipment to carry debris from a certain place, and even volunteers that can be called out at the time of need.
All this and more can be added to the asset tracking software to help organizations track items, ensure steady team collaboration, and reduce the risk of disasters. Additionally, have vendors and suppliers on call so more stock quantity can be procured when needed.
Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. (World Food Summit, 2009)
Situation Two: When responding requires efficient management
As said before, disasters can be inevitable. Even if you are prepared, there is a high chance that a place can be hit with a natural or man-made disaster. This requires responding to disasters promptly.
Prompt response is also the most crucial requirement of disaster management. It’s one hell of a challenge if everything is handled manually but the response time can be reduced if the processes are automated.
Assign teams to different spots and provide them with packages and bundles of required equipment. In an event where a disaster occurs, bundles and packages within the equipment tracking software can play a vital role.
You can create bundles to include medical items, food supplies, and first aid boxes. This makes multiple item checkouts easy. Some apps even allow you to add bundles to carts so one team of volunteers can be assigned hundreds of the same bundles to deliver to hundreds of families affected by a disastrous event. A slow response will only increase the impact of a disaster.
Situation Three: When you need it in the Recovery Period
In the event of disasters, reducing the emergency response time can play a decisive role in the recovery process and save lives. On the other hand, delays can be fatal and can drastically slow down the long-term recovery process.
Recovery alludes to those projects which go past the arrangement of quick alleviation to help the individuals who have endured the full effect of a debacle to modify their homes, lives, and benefits and to reinforce their ability to adapt to future calamities. From food, shelter, and medical supplies to counseling and therapy – they need it all consistently till things go back to where they were before.
In situations where the capacity of an organization to help respond and handle a disaster is overwhelmed, they bring help from its regional and international networks. This is where Access Domains help out when you can bring equipment from other locations.
Disaster management requires swift action
With the asset tracking software, financial costs can also be considerably reduced as equipment theft is reduced by increasing accountability and the purchasing of redundant or duplicate equipment is checked. This also helps to locate ghost equipment i.e. that exists only on paper.
Do you know that these disasters have been really costly for the insurance industry worldwide? The earthquake and tsunami, which struck Japan in March 2011 caused insured losses amounting to 40 billion U.S. dollars and total losses reaching approximately 210 billion U.S. dollars.
Trusting equipment with the lives and well-being of others at the time of disasters has become easier with equipment tracking software as it ensures that required equipment is always available and operational at its highest level of efficiency.