The Red Cross, a humanitarian aid foundation, defines Disaster Management as “the organization and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular, preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.”
A disaster disrupts the functioning of a community and causes human, environmental and material losses. Earlier responses to disasters may be called as reactive, i.e. a response was evoked when a disaster struck. Such a response managed the risk inappropriately and was limited in its reach. It concerned itself only to providing relief. Now, the new paradigm is about preparedness and proactive approach to deal with disasters. Newer and advanced technology like the GIS has helped in this endeavour, a lot.
A GIS helps in understanding the geography of a disaster-impacted area. A GIS helps to model hazards intensity and severity thereby helping to understand the impact on infrastructure, natural features and population. It thus helps in real-time to respond effectively to a disaster for evacuation and rehabilitation work.
Thus, GIS helps in disseminating critical information to various stakeholders in the case of emergencies. Since time is a limited commodity in the case of disasters, such data enables quick analysis and decision making thereby saving lives and resources.
Depending upon the emergency, a GIS can provide detailed information to the first responding units. This becomes crucial as efforts and resources could be better mobilized within the 'golden hour' after the disaster has struck.