253507 Crisis Mapping: A Valuable New Tool in Responding to Public Health Disaster?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Annie Feighery, MPA, EdM , Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
Robert E. Fullilove, EdD , School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Altyn M. Aringazina, MD, PhD , Associate Professor and Head, Department of Health Promotion and Social Science, Kazakhstan School of Public Health, Almaty, Kazakhstan
John Allegrante, PhD , Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
Background: The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, resulted in a humanitarian and public health disaster of biblical proportions, with hundreds of thousands of injuries and lives lost. At least one-million people lost their homes and the Haitian government sustained a total loss of its paper-based infrastructure. Multilateral and non-governmental organizations responded with a known crisis management system termed the Cluster Response. In addition, Ushahidi, an open-sourced crisis mapping global communication network, deployed its web- and Frontline SMS-based texting network to coordinate reports of need and response. Since then, crisis mapping has exploded in applications to both governance and natural disaster emergencies. However, almost no evaluation has been undertaken to determine the efficacy or potential of such technologies in stemming the impact of such public health calamities.

Purpose: To evaluate the successes and failures of the new innovation of crisis mapping for disaster response. Methods: We conducted 30 interviews with key stakeholders involved in the Cluster and crisis mapping responses in the Haiti disaster.

Results: Initial hostility between the two bodies prohibited maximizing available resources and information. However, by the second-wave disaster, which comprised the cholera epidemic, the cluster organizations had largely accepted the value of crisis mapping and adopted it as an in-house tool.

Conclusions: Despite the opportunities crisis mapping offers for disaster management, radio persisted as the most important means of communicating with individuals most at risk. The implications for managing large-scale public health disasters through such new technologies have gone unrealized and require further exploration.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify and define the role of participatory and mHealth communications in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. 2. Evaluate the impact of participatory communications for emergency disaster response. 3. Assess the management and cultural barriers to adopting new technological innovations that have implications for public health disaster preparedness.

Keywords: New Technology, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have conducted this research for GHI, as well as related projects for UNFPA and USAID. I am a leading name in the emerging field of Participatory Epidemiology. I was recently named one of 15 Twitter voices to follow for global health by UN Dispatch.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.