Urban Fold

How the U.N. Uses GIS to Manage Humantarian Responses

Two planners with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reveal how they use GIS to coordinate their efforts, using the recent tsunami and earthquake in Japan as an example.

Craig Williams and John Marinos, who work in the U.N.'s regional OCHA office for Asia and the Pacific, explain that "[m]anaging information during a humanitarian emergency is a crucial part of any operation." They use a variety of international data sets to help predict risk:

"OCHA adds value by displaying these data in conjunction with other operational information or information about particularly vulnerable groups (i.e. refugees or internally displaced persons), in a way that is useful for humanitarian workers and decision makers. OCHA offices at the country level often do similar types of vulnerability mapping but use data more specific to that particular country. This vulnerability mapping often forms the basis for the 'worst case' and "most likely" scenarios used in contingency planning."

Full Story: GIS Enables the Humanitarian Response: A Perspective from the United Nations

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