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timely and in a form that is understandable by decision makers. Information about disasters could be used for a variety of purposes and must be adaptable to the decision-making process. For example, disaster information could be used to predict the physical processes as well as the effects of disasters. Also, information could be used in support of decisions to deploy personnel and resources during or after a disaster.
While government agencies have much of the basic data needed for an effective disaster information system, valuable data and information from private sources also are available. A particularly valuable role of private organizations is the dissemination of disaster information, especially the delivery of such information to the general public to minimize losses.
Disaster information user needs vary greatly. For example, some users require highly processed data, while for others raw data are more useful. In any case, the importance of adequate training, and an appreciation of the quality of the data, for any user of disaster information is clear.
As planning proceeds for a disaster information network, these important goals should be pursued:
improve decision-making before, during, and after emergencies through better access to and quality of data and information,
identify users and their needs,
provide information products specifically designed to meet users' needs,
promote efficiency and cost effectiveness, and
stimulate and facilitate mitigation.
It is clear that despite excellent efforts by many groups the approach to providing information for disaster management is not effectively utilizing a wealth of data that resides with various organizations and that existing technology could deliver to disaster managers important information products that could save lives, reduce damage to property, and lessen the environmental impacts of disasters. The current situation is characterized by numerous shortcomings that inhibit optimal decision-making for disaster management. The inability to access information and the lack of standardization, coordination, and communication are all obstacles that need to be overcome.
It is recommended that the Global Disaster Information Network (GDIN) Transition Team move ahead in planning for a disaster information network (DIN), taking into account the following conclusions from this study: