Quarterly News report  5 - March 2011

File: Information and Communication Technologies in Disaster Management


The Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have made incredible progress in many fields of application.

 The revolutionary potential of ICTs lies in their ability to instantly connect vast networks of individuals and organizations across large geographic areas, and facilitate rapid flow of information, capital, ideas, people and products. With ICT, especially computers, the Internet and mobile phones, the location and time of interaction constraints were significantly relaxed, besides, ICT have become essential tools for cooperation and collaboration.


ICTs have also been important tools to find innovative solutions for development challenges. ICTs have transformed government services thanks to an improved efficiency, transparency and by reducing bureaucratic layers.


If we assume that each minute saved can save a life in an answer to a crisis situation, we can probably agree that ICTs that save precious minutes deserve special attention. Indeed, ICTs can play a catalytic role in reducing disaster risks through early warning, coordination and monitoring of aid activities and resources, recording and spread of knowledge and experience, and awareness.


Recent events that have hit Algeria and many parts of the world in terms of natural or man made disasters, have shown that most governments are not adequately prepared to deal with major disasters, despite the significant efforts and the tremendous work done by the interveners .

When a major natural or human made  disaster occurs, one is faced with three main problems:

Emergency interveners and even the victims do not know everything that happens in the first few minutes or even the first hours following the disaster. Precious time is lost because of the confusion and does not allow individuals to take adequate measures to reduce the extent of damage.


The state and local bodies concerned, or those belonging to different departments within the same jurisdiction, cannot communicate with each other because they use different means of communication or lack of cooperation means.

In addition to this problem, those who need to be rescued often can not communicate with rescue teams.


The real tragedy is that many components of the solution to these problems exist, however, some politicians and managers of emergency response organizations do not understand the potential of technology in saving lives. IP communications (Internet Protocol), the wireless broadband (WiFi, cellular, and other wireless options) video and digital audio, databases technology is at the core of the solution.


Although the implementation of a solution using these components can take time and require coordination among several partners, the profitability analysis is quite simple. By building the right network allowing applications and users to share texts, video and audio via computer and standard communication devices, creating databases with appropriate information and developing a response crises plan based on ICT, it is possible to reduce the pain, misery and deaths of thousands .

Nouali Taboudjemat Nadia

Senior  Researcher - CERIST

Division of Theory and Engineering of Computer Systems