Technology May be Emergency Management’s Best Friend

Microsoft Disaster Response’s chief technology officer, Tony Surma, corresponded with Eric Holdeman in a written interview about the use of technology in emergency management in a piece for

“Where do you see technology being used today to advance the different missions of the emergency management community?” Holdeman asked Surma.

“The role of technology in emergency management is to connect, inform and ultimately save the lives of those impacted by disasters. Technology restores connectivity to impacted areas so that governments can communicate with citizens and people can find their loved ones. Technology enables responders to coordinate rescue missions and work efficiently from the minute they arrive in a disaster zone, and helps businesses recover so communities can begin to rebuild faster. Lastly, after and in between incidents, technology helps us analyze, track and study natural disasters so that we can always be learning and developing better solutions — and prepare to save more lives,” Surma wrote in response.

They also discussed how the cloud is impacting emergency management. Surma noted it has been transformational for the preparation and management of disaster responses.

“Disasters can knock out or overload local infrastructure, making access to data and communication systems nearly impossible. The cloud works around this challenge because data is stored and kept accessible far from the disaster zone. The cloud can also be quickly scaled depending on traffic and volume, so local agencies’ online presence after a disaster is secure from outages,” said Surma.

He also talked about the various ways Microsoft in particular is using technology for emergency management – all of which you can read in the original article, linked below.

Lastly, Holdeman asked Surma what the future looks like for information management during disaster response.

“With the progressive, real-time open sharing of data during disasters, we expect to see a shift and rewiring of how disaster response is managed,” answered Surma.

“Today we have phone calls, situation reports that come a day later, and a variety of data sources we rely upon to make critical decisions. An analogy I often use is the stock market. Think about an old-world model where you found out a stock’s price a day later in the newspaper compared to today’s integrated, immediate access that delivers the data needed to make important decisions nearly simultaneously to all involved. I see the future of disaster response similarly, that there will be a transformation in the way agencies exchange critical data in an open and real-time manner and make it available to people whose livelihood — and lives — rely upon it,” Surma concluded.


For more of Surma’s answers, click here: