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close this bookEmergency Information Management and Telecommunications - 1st Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1997, 62 p.)
close this folderPart 3: Setting up the systems
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEmergency information management tasks and issues
View the documentEmergency telecommunications tasks and issues

Emergency information management tasks and issues

Tasks -
* prior to onset of crisis

Hardware issues

Software issues

Personnel issues

1. Identify likely emergency information users; assess and prioritize information needs.

Review (1) in-house management needs, (2) external needs (donors, host government, all partner agencies). Determine necessary & sufficient info (ie, categories, levels of accuracy, timeliness, etc.)

2. Clarify and approve agency emergency information management policies and procedures; communicate them to all staff. (Modify information policies and procedures, to the extent technically and politically feasible, to ensure that end-user needs can be met.)

Networked vs. standalone systems (base decisions on budgetary realities and on agency policies regarding extent of access to sensitive emergency information).

Classify info: what is urgent vs. routine? Design formats for assessment, sitrep, monitoring, pipeline, distribution, financial, emergency reports; approve dissemination channels for info (ie, internal vs. external).

Ensure that personnel are trained in policies and procedures (formal or informal training?)

3. Prepare a list of likely hazards confronting the country and a history of actual disasters to inform contingency planning.


Document review.

Interview former key respondents about decisions/actions taken.

4. Select contingency scenarios (in accordance with agency mandate and likely resource levels).


In accordance with hazard history, agency mandate and resource potential.

Encourage staff to take time for contingency planning.

5. Prepare regional and specific population vulnerability analyses to inform contingency planning and future targeting. Communicate results to program officers.

Budget for transport, data recording devices (computers, peripherals).

Review of existing national census data; household questionnaire development, GIS software.

Ensure personnel are trained in household surveys, Rapid Rural Appraisal, GIS use.

6. Identify early warning indicators (in accordance with selected contingency scenarios) and continue to monitor. Communicate results to program officers.

Leasing of satellites and remote sensing equipment? Or review of available media?

Establish baseline data needs according to hazard history and probability; monitor changes in data.

Technicians or “aware”, experienced generalists?

7. Identify inputs essential to the capacity of the system that satisfy information needs and, pending resource availability, budget and procure.

Decide on essential and appropriate equipment: computers & peripherals? backup power sources? calculators? filing cabinets? other?

Design required report formats and ascertain data needed to produce these reports.

Personnel competent in basic systems analysis.

8. Identify sympathetic media, and inform them about agency mandate, plans, capacities.


Decisions are made concerning degree of openness with the media.

Hire public information officers, or train staff in media management?

Tasks -
* with onset of crisis

Hardware issues

Software issues

Personnel issues

9. Initiate emergency data-gathering functions (periodic disaster and needs assessment and ongoing monitoring) and focus on emergency-affected area and population. Feed results promptly to agency data analysts.

Satellite imaging? Recording equipment for interviews? Vehicles, fuel, and spares?

Decide data gathering techniques for disaster and needs assessment (convenience sampling and interviews?) as well as later monitoring and evaluation activities (survey research and statistical analyses?)

Ensure personnel are available and have the technical skills needed for damage and needs assessment, and for monitoring and evaluation activities. Understand background and biases of team members.

10. Focus emergency data-analysis systems on emergency-affected area and population. Review filtering/gatekeeper functions and modify as needed to ensure that information concerning immediate needs receives highest priority.

Equipment for analyses of technical GIS data? or for simple word-processing and report production?

Operate info filtering and prioritization procedures on ongoing basis to provide needed information and filter out unneeded excess.

Ensure personnel are available and have technical skills needed. Technicians or experienced generalists? Background and biases of analysts understood.

11. Review and clarify channels for disseminating priority information. Clarify information-sharing and other program coordination goals and objectives in-house and with agency partners. Where appropriate, establish coordination mechanisms for joint programming with new partners; identify and approve joint information needs.

Networked computer systems? Stand-alone systems to produce reports? Office space and other office supplies for coordination meetings budgeted and procured?

Modify internal vs. external types of information and modify decisions about transparency as needed (eg, available to all? on “need to know basis? top management only?)
Review sitrep, other report formats and modify as needed. Establish mechanisms for what purpose: info sharing? collaboration? joint programming?

Assign permanent agency liaison for coordination and info-sharing? or ad hoc, occasional representation at info-sharing meetings

12. Contact sympathetic media regularly and encourage them to visit emergency operations sites. Where appropriate, provide assistance to journalists in reaching emergency sites.

Ensure in-house capacity to generate response to media inquiries; review levels of transparency vis a vis the media.

Review with field staff what may and may not be disseminated to the media.