Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer based application of technology involving spatial and attributes information to act as a decision support tool. It keeps information in different layers and generates various combinations pertaining to the requirement of the decision making. In the recent times, GIS has emerged as an effective tool in management of disasters since, geo-spatial data and socio-economic information need to be amalgamated for the better decision making in handling a disaster or to plan for tackling a disaster in a better way. GIS could be utilized by the different line departments and agencies who are stakeholders in the disaster management process. Some basic hardware like computer system, printer, network systems, along with GIS software are required to set up the GIS in any organisation.
The prime objectives of developing the GIS database are to help disaster managers at State, District and Block level for:
i) Pre-disaster planning and preparedness
ii) Prediction and early warning
iii) Damage assessment and relief management
GIS combines layers of information on various themes to enable the managers to take the most appropriate decisions under the given circumstances. For disaster management, a GIS database could be a useful managerial tool for various reasons, some of which are as under:
- Disaster Managers could generate maps both at micro and macro level indicating vulnerability to different extents under different threat perceptions.
- Locations likely to remain unaffected or remain comparatively safe could be identified.
- Alternate routes to shelters, camps, and important locations in the event of disruption of normal surface communication could be worked out.
- Smooth rescue and evacuation operations could be properly planned.
- Rehabilitation and post-disaster reconstruction works could be properly organized.
- Locations suitable for construction of shelters, godowns, housing colonies, etc. can be scientifically identified.
- Areas where no construction should be taken up or existing habitations require relocation, could be identified.