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GIS approach for disaster management through awareness - an overview


Balaji. D
mr_donb@yahoo.com



Sankar. R
Sankar_raju2001@yahoo.co.in


Karthi. S
K_804@fastmail.ca
B.E. Geo-Informatics, Dept. of Civil Engineering
Anna University, Chennai


Abstract
Disaster management has been the hot topic in recent times. A lot many management techniques have evolved through various discussions. All the management techniques that are being developed are understood by, and confined to the intellectual community and hence lack mass participation. Awareness of the disasters is the only effective way in which one can bring about mass participation. Hence, any disaster management is successful only when the general public has some awareness about the disaster.

In the design of such an awareness program, spatial data becomes imperative and for the analysis of the spatial data and the representation of the results in spatial format, a Geographical Information System (GIS) becomes the obvious and effective choice. The usage of the spatial system provides the advantages of emphasis on the areas or locations which need more attention. This paper aims at providing a methodology of designing a GIS based awareness program for earthquake, flood, landslide, drought, diseases and other natural and man made disaster management. Further, the paper discusses the use of GIS to decide upon the better ways of creating awareness on the various factors mentioned above.

The methodology suggested is in the Indian context emphasises the role of zonation, literacy and media usage. It involves the use of maps showing Earthquake zonation, flood risk area zonation, landslide zonation, drought zonation, disease prone area zonation, land use, literacy rate, population density, media usage, occupation of people and rainfall. These maps which are input to GIS, result in an analytically derived awareness program, which is then compared with a successfully operating awareness program. Such a comparison is also an indicator of the outcome of the awareness program.

In conclusion, the proposed GIS based awareness program would improve the currently practiced disaster management programs and if implemented, would result in a proper dosage of awareness and caution to the general public, which in turn would help the activities of disaster management.

Introduction
The earth has been an unstable proposition throughout its existence. Man who entered the scene has been exploring during his short existence to unravel the various mysteries which are mysteries till date. These mysteries have been understood by and confined to the intellectual community. But, when the victims of the mysteries are the people then they need to know what the mysteries are and the impact the mysteries can have on them. As the proverb says,

“Knowing your strengths and your foes’ strengths is half the battle won”.

Thus, the need of the hour is awareness about the disasters and the ways of managing them.

This paper discusses how disaster can be managed through awareness and suggests a methodology to design an awareness program with the help of the spatial component. But before discussing this let us discuss what a disaster is? What disaster management is? How disasters can be managed by spreading awareness about disasters? And what is the role of GIS in disaster management?

Disasters
‘Disasters’ as a term has been interpreted in a lot many ways by various individuals and organizations. The reason for this is the lack of consensus on what a disaster is. But, in recent times due to increase in the amount of research going into disasters and their management and mitigation, almost many of the definitions have more or less been talking about human sensitivity towards natural or man-made or environmental hazards i.e., in other words the definitions have become anthropocentric and have reached a level of standardization. So, in order to understand the term disaster we need to understand the term ‘hazard’ and the human sensitiveness towards a hazard. Now, let us look at them.

Hazard can be defined or viewed as a naturally occurring or human-induced process or event with the potential to create loss, i.e. a general source of danger.

In other words, a hazard is a rare or extreme event in the natural or human-made environment that adversely affects human life, property or activity to the extent of causing a disaster.

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