Technology benefits emergency response by boosting the effectiveness of all emergency services by ensuring coordination in the preparedness, responsiveness, and recovery process. Technology assists emergency responders in responding to disasters and getting all individuals away from danger. Technology plays a major role in emergency response in various ways, such as communication and information sharing, remote sensing and aerial surveillance, social media and crowdsourcing, and telemedicine and telehealth.
Communication and Information Sharing
Technology is a significant factor in communication and information sharing; it involves transferring data among people and emergency responders through mobile phones, internet-based communication platforms, and emergency alert systems. Mobile phones have enabled interconnectedness through entertainment and when responding to emergencies. Most phone users share information via various forms, such as messaging, broadcasting, and other emergency communications apps. Internet-based communication platforms have also made it easier to share information. Robbins (2022) writes that emergency responders may access information from social networks and posts, which aids them in identifying the source of the disaster. As such, evaluating a crisis enables prompt responsiveness to the crisis. In cases of national crisis, the authorities use wireless emergency notifications, which only provide warnings like Presidential, imminent, and amber alerts. Moreover, sharing reliable information is essential as it allows emergency responders to act effectively and make sound decisions. Sharing erratic information may cause uncertainty to the responders (Musheke and Phiri, 2021), leading to misjudgment in the decision-making process during a crisis. Technology makes communication and information sharing easier through mobile phones, internet-based communication platforms, and emergency alert systems by ensuring responders acknowledge evolving situations and provide safety guidelines.
Remote Sensing and Aerial Surveillance
Remote sensing is essential during emergency response due to its ability to provide visual data and acumens from higher grounds. Mohd Daud et al. (2022) note that most researchers and organizations prefer these technologies because they survey large areas of the earth in less time. Remote sensing plays a vital role in emergency response through aerial imagery and mapping, search and rescue operations, hazard monitoring, and early warning. Aerial imagery and mapping primarily utilize drones and satellites equipped with imagery sensors. These devices give the responders information on the ground’s situation; for example, drones are preferable while capturing high-resolution images of areas under crisis. Drones and satellites also play a key role in search and rescue operations as they consume less time to locate victims (Mohd Daud et al., 2022). The technological devices also provide accurate information on routes rescuers should take. Thus, emergency responders find technology in remote sensing helpful because it provides the earth’s insights from above the ground.
Technology is resourceful in aerial surveillance systems as it aids in monitoring hazards and providing early warnings. Hermle et al. (2021) state that early warnings enable the responders to take timely action, prevent risks, and respond effectively. Early warning information provides preparedness and allows emergency responders to evacuate the victims in advance. Aerial surveillance systems also help monitor the environment and assess probable dangers like oil spills. For instance, research by Majid et al. (2020) illustrates that using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) is advantageous because the sensors capture vivid videos and stream pictures of the environment surrounding the refineries. The images are later inspected, providing critical information on clearing the oil spillage. Conclusively, aerial surveillance plays a crucial role in emergency response by providing visual data and instantaneous situations, hence allowing decision-making and emergency operations.
Social Media and Crowdsourcing
As time passes, most people are embracing social media, and this factor has made the media a powerful tool in emergency response because social media enables rapid spread of information within a short period. Social media and crowdsourcing platforms allow fast transmission of information and provide updates on real-time situations. As a result, victims and emergency responders can communicate effectively. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2023), some planners use social media to identify threats and communicate with the residents about their concerns. Crowdsourcing intensifies messaging and provides critical information regarding any situation’s urgency. Although using the media has negative effects like posting irrelevant messages and rumors, the responders have created ways of identifying disasters; for example, by using hashtags (Vongkusolkit & Huang, 2020). The responders analyze the public’s perception, filter their emotions and opinions, then use the information to make objective decisions and counter-efficient emergency operations. Using technology in social media and crowdsourcing has benefited emergency responders through copious ways like real-time situation awareness and convenience in assessing information and public perception.
Telemedicine and Telehealth
Technology has an enormous role in telemedicine and telehealth; it has enhanced the integration between individuals and emergency responders, leading to easy access to health facilities in remote communities. Taha et al. (2022) contend that although people have practiced telemedicine for ages, the emergence of COVID-19 advanced its use. Using telemedicine during the pandemic mitigated the burden of building more healthcare facilities because most patients preferred home care. Virtual communication between the patients and responders accelerated medical care in remote areas, reducing mortality cases. Similarly, technology has been helpful in telehealth because patients can use various platforms to manage their health. In particular, patients can use phone apps to check their blood pressure, while others use portals to book appointments and view reports. In emergency cases, the responders and patients can utilize video consultations to receive medical services and prescriptions (Burmeister et al., 2019). In addition to providing fast medical care, telehealth is advantageous as it is cost-effective. Hence, technology benefits telemedicine and telehealth since it quickens communication and consultation between patients and responders, thus providing safety to humans during emergencies.
Communication and information sharing, remote sensing and aerial surveillance, social media and crowdsourcing, and telemedicine and telehealth are some benefits technology contributes to emergency response. Technology expedites flawless communication and sharing of information, which ensures prompt response to emergencies. Remote sensing and aerial surveillance provide visual information on real-time situations, further aiding in decision-making to improve crisis management and save lives. Social media and crowdsourcing enable real-time transmission of information between individuals under critical situations and the responders, hence quick emergency responses. Lastly, telemedicine and telehealth have hastened the coordination between responders and patients, thus increasing healthcare even in remote areas.
Burmeister, O. et al. (2019) ‘The impact of telehealth technology on user perception of wellbeing and social functioning, and the implications for service providers.’ Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 23, pp. 1-18.
Hermle, D. et al. (2021) ‘Challenging the timely prediction of landslide early warning systems with multispectral remote sensing: a novel conceptual approach tested in the Sattelkar, Austria.’ Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Available at: https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-18. (Accessed on: 11 May 2023).
Majid, M.I., Chen, Y., Mahfooz, O. and Ahmed, W. (2020) ‘UAV-based smart environmental monitoring.’ Employing Recent Technologies for Improved Digital Governance, pp. 317-335, IGI Global.
Mohd Daud et al. (2022) ‘Applications of drone in disaster management: a scoping review.’ Science & Justice, 62, pp. 30-42. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2021.11.002. (Accessed on: 11 May 2023).
Musheke, M. M., and Phiri, J. (2021) ‘The effects of effective communication on organizational performance based on the systems theory.’ Open Journal of Business and Management, 9(2), pp. 659-671. Available at: https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=107818. (Accessed on 11 May 2023).
Robbins, J. P. (2022) ‘Social media in disasters.’ Global Disaster Preparedness Center, Available at: https://preparecenter.org/topic/social-media-disasters/. (Accessed 11 May 2023).
Taha, A. R. et al. (2022) ‘The integration of mHealth technologies in telemedicine during the COVID-19 era: A cross-sectional study.’ PLOS ONE, 17(2), e0264436. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0264436. (Accessed on 12 May 2023).
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023) Topic Collection: social media in Emergency Response. Available at: https://asprtracie.hhs.gov/technical-resources/73/social-media-in-emncy-response/77. (Accessed on: 11 May 2023).
Vongkusolkit, J. and Huang, Q. (2020) ‘Situational awareness extraction: a comprehensive review of social media data classification during natural hazards.’ Annals of GIS, 27(1), pp. 5-28. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/19475683.2020.1817146. (Accessed on: 11 May 2023).