Information and Communication Technology: A Tool for Disaster Management


The Disaster can be caused by natural or men-made, but when it occurs it’s tough to recover. Its known fact that it can be affected both developed and developing countries, causing huge destruction and creating human sufferings which impacts on national economy. Thus, disaster management is a emergency multi-layered plans which are aimed to address adhoc issues like floods, hurricanes, fires, and even mass failure of utilities or the rapid spread of disease to protect maximum number of lives and property during a natural disaster.

Due to the emergence of technological innovation, empowers every step of the disaster management cycle by enhancing the capability of managers to co-ordinate an effective emergency response. In this paper, we examine the role of technology in every stages of DM cycle, ICT initiatives taken by the Government at National Level and how this ICT acts as a tool to protect from number of major types of disaster.


Well known fact that, disaster is an event which threatens the society with an undesired outcome which causes a negative effects on human life both social and economical losses.

Disasters can be result in great damage, loss, or destruction.

It can be of two types:

Natural and Man-made.

Natural disasters include earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunami, freezes, landslides, wild fires, blizzards, extreme heat or cold, drought, or insect infestation. The impact of natural disasters in terms of human and economic losses has risen in recent years, and society in general has become more vulnerable to natural disasters.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer

Proficient in: Disaster

5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Man-made disaster includes chemical disasters, biological disasters, nuclear disasters, collapses of high rise building, plane crash, fire in building or malfunctioning of nuclear facility.

In case of any disaster, Disaster management activities where it focuses on three primary objects protecting life, property and environment.

Emergence of technology is playing a vital role in indentifying the risk areas of disaster. Its role of highlighting risk areas, vulnerabilities and potentially affected populations by producing geographically referenced analysis through a geographic information system. Technologies are used in each and every step of Disaster management cycle to alert the officers regarding disaster. To avoid the disaster completely is impossible but somehow risk can be reduced.


The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction defines disaster as “a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources”.

Stands for ‘Information and Communication Technologies’, ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. It is similar to Information Technology, but focuses primarily on communication technologies. This includes the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums.

ICT Principles

ICTs for Disaster Management can be summed up in four principles: multi-hazard, multi-technology, multi-phased, and multi-stakeholder.


Natural hazards include earthquakes, cyclones, floods, mud slides, droughts, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and fires. For all disasters that follow natural hazards, ICTs play a critical role in facilitating the flow of vital information in a timely manner.


In mitigating disastrous effects of hazards, ITU promotes the use of different information and communication technologies and networks, including satellite, radio, mobile networks and the Internet, that can contribute to enhance capacity and reduce vulnerability of people​.


Telecommunications are critical at all stages of disaster management:  mitigation, preparedness, response and relief, recovery and rehabilitation.


The local community, the government, the private sector, disaster management agencies, meteorological organizations, civil society, humanitarian agencies and international organizations ​should ensure access to ICTs to better coordinate disaster management activities. Partnerships are the best way to achieve this task.


In the process of managing the disaster, it has been divided into 4 phases:

Preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. These are designed to aid emergency manager’s plan for and minimise the impact of major incidents. From localised events to national disasters, these steps are used across the entire crisis management community.

Specific aspects examined include:

  1. Channels used for disaster warning
  2. GIS and remote sensing is disaster management
  3. Internet usage
  4. Specific disaster management software
  5. Disaster information network
  6. GIS in disaster recovery.

It’s a continuous process by which governments, civil society plan for and reduce the impact of disasters, react during and immediately following a disaster, and take steps to recover after a disaster has occurred.

It is an ongoing process by there is variations to the cycle but the most common version is of 4 phases of disaster cycle:

  1. Disaster preparedness: preparedness efforts include plans or preparations made in advance of an emergency that help individuals and communities get ready to either respond or to recover. It aims to achieve a satisfactory level of readiness to respond to any emergency situation through programs that strengthen the technical and managerial capacity of governments, organizations, and communities. The preparations may include the stocking of reserve food and water, the gathering and screening of willing community volunteers, or citizen’s education & evacuation plan, holding disaster drills, and installing smoke detectors, mutual aid agreements, development of hospital disaster plans, emergency medical service plans, etc.
  2. Disaster response: Disaster response work includes any actions taken in the midst of or immediately following an emergency, including efforts to save lives and to prevent further property damage. Ideally, disaster response involves putting already established disaster preparedness plans into motion. The focus in the response phase is on meeting the basic needs of the victims until sustainable community has been achieved. This phase may still continue even when recovery phase can already be started.
  3. Disaster recovery: Recovery involves restoring, rebuilding, and reshaping the impacted area. It starts after damages have been assessed and adequate response effort is achieved and on-going. It involves actions to return the affected community to its pre-disaster state or better. As the emergency is brought under control, the affected population is capable of undertaking a growing number of activities aimed at restoring their lives and the infrastructure that supports them. Recovery activities continue until all systems return to normal or better.
  4. Mitigation: involves implementing measures for preventing future threat of disaster and/or minimizing their damaging effects of unavoidable threat. It requires hazard risk analysis and the application of strategies to reduce the likelihood that hazards will become disasters, such as flood-proofing homes or having flood/fire insurance, following safety standards of building materials and appliances.

In reality, there is no clear distinct point at which these 4 phases change throughout the cycle. To some degree, the cycle flows in such flexible order.

Application of Information and Communication Technology

The fast growing IT industry has changed every aspect of human life. It enhances the quality and effectiveness of trade, manufacturing, services, other aspects of human life such as education, research, culture, entertainment, communication, national security, etc. Disaster management needs drastic improvements in its sources to decrease damage and save the life of people. Challenges faced by the same are facing challenges for data collection, data management, translation integration and communication. To achieve this main object, the advanced techniques of information technology such as remote sensing, satellite communication, GIS, etc. can help in planning and implementation of disaster management.


Internet plays a vital role in disaster management where it provide useful platform for the communication. The Internet is becoming increasingly important because of it facilitates, the opportunities to enhance the capabilities of addressing hazard awareness and risk management practices before, during, and following emergency events. The compilation, retrieval and redistribution of information by canters of interest, of the use by alternative forms of media can expand the utility of the information at the local, national, regional and international levels of interest.

GIS and Remote Sensing

Geographic information technology tools like Geographic Information Systems and Remote sensing support all aspects of disaster management. GIS and RS are essential as effective preparedness, communication and training tool for disaster management. Disaster planning can be very powerful when modelling is incorporated into GIS. Most potential disasters can be modelled. Modelling allows disaster managers to view the scope of a disaster, where the damage may be the greatest, what lives and property at highest risk, and what response resources are required and where GIS can play a very important role in this exercise. The specific GIS applications in the field of Risk the assessment are:

  1. Hazard Mapping
  2. Threat Maps
  3. Disaster Management
  4. Records Management

Application of GIS and Remote Sensing in various disasters is as follows:-


GIS and Remote Sensing can be used in drought relief management such as early warnings of drought conditions will help to plan out the strategies to organise relief work. Satellite data may be used for to target potential ground water sites for taking up well-digging programmes.


GIS and Remote Sensing can be used for preparing seismic hazards maps in order to assess the exact nature of risks.


Satellite data can be effectively used for mapping and monitoring the flood inundated areas, flood damage assessment, flood hazard zoning and post-flood survey of rivers configuration and protection works.


A cyclone is a storm accompanied by high speed whistling and howling winds. It brings torrential rains and causes heavy floods. Advanced techniques like, GIS, remote sensing tools can be used to identify the vulnerable population with the single hazard component. These tools can be used to calculate state level population affected by different type of storms. But, calculating vulnerability by GIS with multiple hazards and coping capacity is not easy job for decision makers.


Landslide zonation map comprise a map demarcating the stretches or area of varying degree of anticipated slope stability or instability. The map has an inbuilt element of forecasting and is hence of probabilistic nature. A landslide hazard zonation map able to provide help concerning some or all of the following:

  1. Location
  2. Extent of the slope area likely to be affected and
  3. Rate of mass movement of the slope mass

Search and Rescue

GIS cab be used in carrying out search and rescue operations in a more effective manner by identifying areas that are disasters prone and zoning them accordingly to risk magnitudes.

Warning and Forecasting System

An advance system of forecasting, monitoring and issuing early warnings plays the most significant part in determining whether a natural hazard will assume disastrous proportions or not. The country has the following forecasting systems:

 Indian Meteorological Department 

Indian Meteorological Department provides cyclone warnings from the Area Cyclone Warning Centres it has developed the necessary infrastructure to originate and disseminate the cyclone warnings at appropriate levels. IMD runs operationally a Limited area Analysis and Forecast System, based on an Optimal Interpretation analysis and a limited area Primitive Equation model, to provide numerical guidance.

National Remote Sensing Agency

Long-term drought proofing programmes on the natural resources of the district have been greatly helped by the use of satellite data obtained by NRSA. Satellite data can be used very effectively for mapping and monitoring the flood-inundated areas, flood damage assessment, flood hazard zoning and past flood survey of river configuration and protection works.

Seismological Observations

Seismological observations in the country are made through national network of 36 seismic stations operated by the IMD, which is the nodal agency. These stations have collected data over long periods of time.

 Warning System for Drought

The National Agricultural Drought Assessment and Management System has been developed by the Department of Space for the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, and is primarily based on monitoring of vegetation status through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Advanced Very High Resolution data. The drought assessment is based on a comparative evaluation of satellite observed green vegetation cover of a district in any specific time period, with that of any similar period in previous years.

Flood Forecasting

The Central Water Commission, Ministry of Water Resources, issues floods forecasts and warnings. These are used for alerting the public and for taking appropriate measures by concerned administrative and state engineering agencies in the flood hazard mitigation. Information is gathered from the CWC’s vast network of Forecasting Stations on various rivers in the country.

Cyclone Tracking

Information on cyclone warnings is furnished on a real-time basis to the control room set up in the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. High power Cyclone Detection Radars that are installed along the coastal belt of India have proved to be a very useful tool to the cyclone warning work. The existing mode of dissemination of cyclone warnings to various government officials is through high priority telegrams, telephones, telex and fax.

Disaster alert through cell phones

The Ministry of Science and Technology of India has developed the world’s first of its kind multilingual disaster alert system – National Disaster Information System – that will transmit Tsunami and cyclone warning through mobile phones in the form of SMS, within 30 seconds of a weather satellite or an earthquake observatory giving alert signals.   The SMS alerts will be made in over 100 languages including 14 regional languages. The SMS alerts will be followed by voice alerts on the mobile phones as well as fixed phones

 Satellite Radio Application

Satellite radio can play a key role during both the disaster warning and disaster recovery phases. Its key advantage is the ability to work even outside of areas not covered by normal radio channels. Satellite radio can also be of help when the transmission towers of the normal radio channels are damaged in a disaster.


  1. Disaster Management Act, India, 2005
  2. Institutional mechanism
  3. National Disaster Management Framework
  4. ICT interventions

National level ICT Initiatives

India Disaster Resource Network:

Initiated by Ministry of Home Affairs in collaboration with United Nations Development Program

GIS in Disaster Management: The Ministry of Home Affairs have initiated the development of a GISbased National Database for Emergency Management in collaboration with various Govt. Ministries

BHUVAN is single largest Web GIS portal for free data and services over India from ISRO allows 3D visualization, 2D visualization, street map overlays, WMS services for land use and land cover, flood inundation events wise rapid assessment and annual inundation, geohazards, forest fire, free RS data download, free 30m DEM from Cartosat-1 data etc

  1. NIC has developed a multi layered GIS platform
  2. States have build Geo-informatics decision support systems. National GIS project conceptualised by India Government under Digital India

National Emergency Communication Plan: GIS based national database and application of geospatial technologies by MHA – Database organization including National level core geo-spatial data.

  1. Development of Decision support tools for addressing emergency management
  2. Institutional mechanism for sharing & updating database on continuous basis and Mirroring / Replica of databases at MHA
  3. Dissemination through NEOC & SEOC during Emergency

Networks for hazard forecasting and warning in India


The raise of ICT in the field of disaster management has overcoming with the losses faced by persons in all aspects. Many applications of ICT like internet, remote sensing, GIS etc can help a great deal in planning and implementation of hazards reduction. These technologies though it is working all together to control the hazards at each stage of the Disaster management cycle, still it has to work more efficiently at the stage of preparedness and response action to avoid disaster. Government of India also took many initiatives by implementing the hazard networks so that any changes in the climate directly intimates to the managers so that they can take an emergency actions. The social media is advancement of usage of ICT where effectively used in Disaster aversion, Planning, warning, rescue and recovery. By creating Apps and ICT initiatives taken at each layer disaster is managed through ICT.


  1. APCICT. Module 9 ICT for Disaster Risk Management. In Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders. ASIAN AND PACIFIC TRAINING CENTRE FOR INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY FOR DEVELOPMENT.
  2. CTs 4 Disaster Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from Committed to connecting the world:
  3. Kamal, D. M. (2015, February). Role of Information and Communication. Retrieved from The Masterbuilder:
  4. Wattegama, C. (2007, January). ICT for disaster management. Retrieved February 15, 2015, from Asia-Pacifiic Development Information Program (APDIP):
  5. Kamal, D. M. (2015, February). Role of Information and Communication. Retrieved from The Masterbuilder:
  6. Vyas, T., & Desai, A. (2007). Information Technology for Disaster Management. Proceedings of National conference, INDIAcom – 2007 (p. 1). New Delhi: Bharathi vidyapeeth University Institue of Computer application and Management
  7. Christensson, Per. ‘ICT Definition.’ TechTerms. Sharpened Productions, 04 January 2010. Web. 05 February 2019. .

Cite this page

Information and Communication Technology: A Tool for Disaster Management. (2022, Feb 20). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7