Illustrative Fictional Narratives of IT Use in Disaster Management

The Committee on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management developed three narratives describing fictional disasters illustrative of the current and potential use of information technology (IT) in disaster management practice. The purpose is to provide a realistic context for understanding and analyzing potential goals and capabilities for the use of IT to improve disaster management now and in the future. The committee constructed narratives representing different types of disasters with different proximate causes, varying lengths of warning, different geographic scope, and different levels of responder perspective (local/tactical, regional/strategic and tactical, national/strategic) in order to uncover both common and unique problems that they present. The narratives draw on the experiences of disaster management practitioners and researchers and highlight specific aspects of technology use. Each scenario shows elements of IT use across the goal areas identified in the report, though a scenario may naturally highlight the importance of some goals more than others. Some descriptions may seem more compelling because they are closer to the direct human impact of a disaster, but gaining an understanding of and improving on disaster management practice at all levels are critical to saving lives and reducing economic impacts. Taken together, the scenarios build a picture of the many moving parts that must be coordinated for an effective response.

For each scenario, an introductory paragraph describes the setting and the focus for analysis of IT use. Each scenario concludes with a summary analysis that highlights some of the challenges and opportunities

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