ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

Despite the growing popularity of Geographic Information System (GIS) information maps as a public health tool, there are no published studies of low-average and low literacy adults' abilities to read and use GIS information presenting emergency preparedness information. We hypothesized that GIS maps are hard to read for at least the 50% of adults in the US reading at 8th grade level or lower (Kirsch et al., 1993). Using a current GIS map used in New York City's Office of Emergency Management Storm Surge Report researchers conducted interviews with 178 English and Spanish speaking residents of East and Central Harlem. Findings reveal that a majority of adults who have not completed high school could not read and use the maps for basic and vital information, including identifying if they lived in a hurricane evacuation zone, and locating where the nearest evacuation center to their home was. This study concludes there is a real and dangerous gap between the language and design of GIS and the abilities of millions of adults to interpret and use this information as currently presented.
Journal of Homeland Security and
Emergency Management
Volume 4, Issue 3 2007 Article 16
GIS Maps to Communicate Emergency
Preparedness: How Useable Are They for
Inner City Residents?
Christina Zarcadoolas
Jennefer Boyer
Arthi Krishnaswami
Andrea Rothenberg
∗∗
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, christina.zarcadoolas@mssm.edu
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Jennefer.boyer@gmail.com
Consultant, arthi.krishnaswami@gmail.com
∗∗
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, andrea.rothenberg@mountsinai.org
Copyright
c
2007 The Berkeley Electronic Press. All rights reserved.
GIS Maps to Communicate Emergency
Preparedness: How Useable Are They for
Inner City Residents?
Christina Zarcadoolas, Jennefer Boyer, Arthi Krishnaswami, and Andrea
Rothenberg
Abstract
Despite the growing popularity of Geographic Information System (GIS) information maps
as a public health tool, there are no published studies of low-average and low literacy adults’
abilities to read and use GIS information presenting emergency preparedness information. We
hypothesized that GIS maps are hard to read for at least the 50% of adults in the US reading
at 8th grade level or lower (Kirsch et al., 1993). Using a current GIS map used in New York
City’s Office of Emergency Management Storm Surge Report researchers conducted interviews
with 178 English and Spanish speaking residents of East and Central Harlem. Findings reveal
that a majority of adults who have not completed high school could not read and use the maps for
basic and vital information, including identifying if they lived in a hurricane evacuation zone, and
locating where the nearest evacuation center to their home was. This study concludes there is a
real and dangerous gap between the language and design of GIS and the abilities of millions of
adults to interpret and use this information as currently presented.
KEYWORDS: emergency preparedness communication, health literacy, health communication,
health education, public safety, GIS maps
GIS maps to communicate emergency preparedness: how useable are they
for inner city residents?
Since Hurricane Katrina there has been a nationwide emphasis on getting
emergency preparedness information and training to residents in coastal areas.
New York City is no exception. The NY Office of Emergency Preparedness
released the New York City Coastal Storm Plan (CSP) to the public as “Ready
New York: Hurricanes and New York City Aug-Sept. 2006”
(http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/ready/hurricane_guide.shtml). The plan’s
central visual is a geographic information system (GIS) map indicating what areas
of the city are designated hurricane evacuation zones, the degree of hazard in
zones, and the location of evacuation centers. The map is available on the web in
an interactive format. The print brochure version was mailed to residents living in
designated hurricane evacuation zones in NYC in summer, 2006. Despite the
growing popularity of GIS as a tool in public health, however, there is very little
research done on the abilities of lay and low literacy publics to read and use GIS
data as it is presently being displayed to them.
GIS data is primarily presented in the form of maps, with multiple layers of
data, e.g. geographic information, population data, health or environmental data,
construction information, etc. The maps are frequently used as a method of
constructing an argument or illustrating alternatives in a decision faced by a
community. Given that 50% of the adult population reads at the 8
th
grade level or
lower (NALS 1993, NAALS, 2003), we expect these maps in their present form
and presentation to be a high barrier for many low literate publics.
A geographic information system (GIS) is a database system with software that
can analyze and display data using digitized maps and tables for planning and
decision-making. A GIS can assemble, store, manipulate, and display
geographically referenced data, tying this data to points, lines and areas on a map
or in a table. GIS can be used to support decisions that require knowledge about
the geographic distribution of people, hospitals, schools, fire stations, roads,
weather events, the impact of hazards/disasters, etc. Any location with a known
latitude, longitude, address, or other geographic grid system can be a part of a GIS
(Lauden & Lauden, 2000).
GIS provides ideal platforms for the convergence of disease-specific
information and their analyses in relation to population settlements, surrounding
social and health services and the natural environment. They are highly suitable
for analyzing epidemiological data, revealing trends and interrelationships that
would be more difficult to discover in tabular format. GIS allows policy makers to
easily visualize problems in relation to existing health and social services and the
natural environment and so more effectively target resources (CDC, 2006). GIS
maps have become a ubiquitous means of analyzing and presenting health and
1Zarcadoolas et al.: GIS Maps to Communicate Emergency Preparedness to Residents
Published by The Berkeley Electronic Press, 2007
emergency information at the global, federal and state levels (ATSDR, 1998;
CDC, 2000, 2006; WHO, 2006; NLM, 2006; FEMA, 2005; CA Nutrition, 2006).
Significantly 80-90 percent of all government databases, including public health,
contain geo-referenced information (Cheves & Wang, 2004).
Since 1993, WHO’s Public Health Mapping and GIS Program has been
leading a global partnership in the promotion and implementation of GIS to
support decision-making for a wide range of infectious disease and public health
programs. “Who’s Public Health Mapping Program”
(http://www.who.int/health_mapping/en/
). ESRI, the leading designer of GIS
software, hosted the first “Annual Conference GIS in Public Health” (URISA
May 2007). Signifying the growing importance of GIS to public health, ESRI also
hosted their annual Health GIS conference in conjunction with their Homeland
Security conference in Denver (October, 2006). This demonstrates the link
between health and security interests.
GIS technology can aggregate statistics and overlay the data with digital maps
to help public officials target and plan responses or focus clinical resources
(Croner, 2003). CDC states, on its website Public Health and GIS,
Researchers, public health professionals, policy makers, and others
use GIS to better understand geographic relationships that affect
health outcomes, public health risks, disease transmission, access
to health care, and other public health concerns. GIS is being used
with greater frequency to address neighborhood, local, state,
national and international public health issues (CDC, 2006).
GIS is a very useful tool for many aspects of emergency management, including:
emergency response, planning, exercises, mitigation, homeland security and
national preparedness. In addition to its ability to manage and display data, GIS
has robust modeling capabilities, allowing its users to adjust data and scenarios
for prediction, planning and estimation.
Simultaneously, GIS maps are also becoming a common way of
communicating information to lay publics (FEMA, 2005; NYOEM, 2006; Florida
2006). CDC’s Gather tool (Geographic Analysis Tool for Health and
Environmental Research) is a premier example of making GIS information
available to provide the public health community and “general public access to
spatial data that is pertinent to the analysis and exploration of public health
issues.” GIS maps are used by federal and state agencies, the media, academic
communities, and community agencies working on health and environmental
issues (WEACT, and CECHI, 2005).
Frequently audiences are asked to understand elements, such as the distribution
of risk across space and the concentration of elevated risk in particular
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communities. For example, GIS has been used in the Gulf states as an information
tool for “identifying sources and routes of contaminants, evaluating the potential
for future exposures, assessing human exposures that occurred in the immediate
aftermath of the hurricanes, and assessing the immediate and longer term health
impacts associated with these exposures” (NIEHS Katrina/Rita Response Portal
http://balata.ucsd.edu:8080/gridsphere/gridsphere).
The current trend in GIS is on web-based mapping. This capability can allow
users to view an already created map or create maps, based on their own
specifications, on their personal computers. Web-based mapping is expected to
widely expand the use of GIS in the workplace, in schools, and in homes (FEMA,
2005). An example of the growing adoption of GIS technology as a teaching and
community advocacy tool can be seen with West Harlem Environmental Action
(WE ACT). This leading environmental justice organization began creating and
posting GIS maps on its website in 1999 in order to allow residents to work with
the health and pollution data vital to understanding the relationship between the
two and the advocacy and policy implications
(http://weact.org/gis/samplemaps.html).
GIS Maps and Health Literacy
Over 30 years of evidence shows that a significant portion of the U.S. adult
population has difficulty accessing, understanding, and using information about
health (Rudd, 2002; IOM, 2004; Schwartzberg et al., 2004; Nielson-Bohman,
2004; Zarcadoolas et al., 2006; Zarcadoolas, 2006a ). A disproportionate number
of members of ethnic minorities and whites of low socioeconomic status have a
higher risk of poor health and poor living environments, as well as risk from
environmental health hazard.
The first NALS (National Adult Literacy Survey, 1993) and the latest NAAL
(National Assessment Adult Literacy, 2003) reveal that at least 73 million adults
in the U.S. have either basic or below basic health literacy. Below basic involves
being able to do the most simple and concrete literacy skills, and basic refers to
simple and everyday literacy activities. There were no significant changes in the
populations' abilities to read documents and prose between the 1993 and 2003
surveys and some improvement in quantitative tasks. Eleven million adults could
not participate in the survey because of language barriers or because they lacked
the very basic literacy skills (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2006).
The negative consequences of low health literacy include compromised or
poor abilities to make informed decisions about health issues, to respond to
emergency preparedness messages, and to mitigate environmental health risks
from chronic pollutants and toxicants. These directly lead to poorer health
3Zarcadoolas et al.: GIS Maps to Communicate Emergency Preparedness to Residents
Published by The Berkeley Electronic Press, 2007
outcomes, greater environmental injustice at the community level, as well as a
variety of increased costs to society.
The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in New York City developed
and circulated an 8.5x11in printable PDF map in July of 2006 to be used by the
public in the case of a hurricane-related evacuation. The OEM released the New
York City Coastal Storm Plan (CSP) to the public as “Ready New York:
Hurricanes and New York City Aug-Sept. 2006.”
(http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/ready/hurricane_guide.shtml).
The Plan uses a GIS map to tell New Yorkers about the level of hazard of
hurricanes in their neighborhood and where to go if they need to evacuate. The
brochure version of the plan, which is also available on the web, was mailed to all
residents living in designated hurricane evacuation zones in NYC. The Plan
includes a large, fold-out map indicating what areas of the city are designated
hurricane evacuation zones, degree of hazard of zone, and where the evacuation
centers are located in these areas. The readability of this map was tested in a pilot
study conducted by Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in East Harlem.
Study Population
According to the 2000 US Census, close to 260,000 people reside in East and
Central Harlem, with an average household income of approximately $20,000 a
year ($18,564 for East Harlem and $21,508 for Central Harlem) (NYC Dept of
City Planning). More than a third of the residents are living in poverty. Almost
one-third of residents in East Harlem (31%), and Central Harlem (22%) report
being in fair or poor health (versus very good or good), (Manhattan 18%; NYC
21%) (Olson, 2006). In 1996, Central Harlem had the highest crude death rate of
any health district in New York City, that is, 14.1 per 1,000 population compared
to a city-wide rate of 9.1 per 1,000 population (New York City Dept. of Health).
In 1996, there were 423.4 coronary heart disease deaths per 100,000 people, in
contrast to the Healthy People 2000 goal of 115 for blacks. There are higher rates
of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), adolescent pregnancies, depressive
disorders, and homicides as well. A study based at the Harlem Hospital Center
found that 25.5 percent of children in central Harlem have asthma, double the
expected rate and one of highest ever documented for an American neighborhood.
East Harlem tops the city in childhood asthma hospitalizations, with 170.2
hospitalizations per 10,000 population for children aged 0-14 in the year 2000,
compared to a citywide average of 64 per 10,000, and a national average of 33.6
childhood asthma hospitalizations per 10,000 people in 2000.
Harlem is a very diverse community with a wide range of ethnic backgrounds
and languages. Eighteen percent of East and Central Harlem residents are not
proficient in English (NYC Dept Planning). Of those who do not speak English,
4 JHSEM: Vol. 4 [2007], No. 3, Article 16
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82% speak Spanish (Healthy Harlem, 2006). Due to the high density of
Hispanics, the southern portion of East Harlem is referred to as Spanish Harlem or
El Barrio. Harlem also has very low literacy levels. Forty-six percent of East
Harlem residents and 33.5% of Central Harlem residents have not graduated high
school (NYC.gov). Community residents of northern Manhattan have a rich
history of organizing to promote health and challenge environmental exposures
that pose health hazards in the community, but have often lacked access to the
technical and informational resources to help them in their efforts to understand
and prioritize health risks.
Methods
The study design was a cross-sectional survey consisting of face-to-face
interviews throughout the community. To be eligible, a person had to be age 18
years or older. No personal identifiers were used. Survey participants consisted
of 178 residents (134 English-speaking, 44 Spanish-speaking) randomly selected
and interviewed at various locations throughout East and Central Harlem
including New York City Housing Projects as well as the Prenatal Clinic at the
Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Seniors were accessed at nine senior centers
and three senior residences in East Harlem. Spanish interviewers were staff of the
health education department, fully bi-lingual native speakers of Spanish with
extensive experience in community relations. English interviewers were trained
ethnographers, supervised by a sociolinguist specializing in health literacy.
Survey questions were designed, pilot tested and revised, and included a series
of questions, which required the respondents to refer to a street-readable sized
version of the CSP Hurricane Evacuation Zone map. Other survey questions
sought demographic information and information on current knowledge, attitudes,
and preparedness with emergency situations. Surveys were administered during
August and September of 2006. Of the respondents, 40% (n=72) had not
graduated high school, a number very representative of the U.S. Census statistics
that maintain 39% of East and Central Harlem adults have not graduated high
school (New York City Department of City Planning, 2006).
Data were analyzed using SPSS version 13.0 (SPSS, Inc.). Odds ratios (ORs)
and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for the relationships between
demographic variables and outcome variables. The demographic variables
considered were age, sex, educational attainment, language, and length of time
living in NYC.
5Zarcadoolas et al.: GIS Maps to Communicate Emergency Preparedness to Residents
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Figure 1 Map of Manhattan Hurricane Evacuation Zones
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Findings
Findings reveal that the current map used to communicate vital information about
hurricane emergencies to the public is not readable and usable by a significant
portion of the Harlem community. The vast majority of surveyed residents who
had not completed high school could not correctly determine if they lived in a
hurricane evacuation zone, which zone, and the correct location of the nearest
Hurricane Evacuation Center. Furthermore, 40% [OR: 5.65 (2.58, 12.35)] of
those who had not graduated high school could not use the map to locate where
they lived (see Table 2). Forty-six percent of the adults in E. Harlem have not
graduated high school (NYC Dept. of City Planning, 2006). Furthermore, 38.2%
live in poverty. After adjusting for education, the other variables (age, sex,
language, and length of time living in NYC) were not found to be significant.
Table 1: Ability to answer questions correctly while looking at map
(based on education level)
Incorrect
n (%)
Correct
n (%)
OR (CI)*
Can you point to where you live? Low Ed 29 (40.3) 43 (59.7
)
5.65 (2.58, 12.35)
High Ed 11 (10.7) 92 (89.3
)
1.0
Judging from these maps, do you
live in hurricane evacuation zone?
Low Ed 51 (73.9) 18 (26.1
)
6.58 (3.32, 12.99)
High Ed 31 (30.1) 72 (69.9
)
1.0
What zone do you live in? Low Ed 57 (82.6) 12 (17.4
)
9.35 (4.44, 19.61)
High Ed 34 (33.7) 67 (66.3
)
1.0
Which hurricane evacuation
center is closest to your home?
Low Ed 46 (65.7) 24 (34.3
)
5.32 (2.75, 10.31)
High Ed 27 (26.5) 75 (73.5
)
1.0
Do you know how to get there? Low Ed 57 (82.6) 12 (17.4
)
5.15 (2.46, 10.75)
High Ed 47 (48.0) 51 (52.0
)
1.0
Low Ed = Less than High School; High Ed = At least High School graduate / GED
*OR = Odds Ratio; CI = 95% confidence interval
7Zarcadoolas et al.: GIS Maps to Communicate Emergency Preparedness to Residents
Published by The Berkeley Electronic Press, 2007
Eighty-three percent (83%) [OR: 9.35 (4.44, 19.61)] of less-educated
participants could not correctly identify which evacuation zone they lived in.
Conversely, those who had completed high school were 9.4 [OR: 9.35 (4.44,
19.61)] times more likely to be able to correctly identify their zone. The vast
majority, 83% [OR: 5.15 (2.46, 10.75)] of those with less education reported that
they did not know how to get to the evacuation center closest to their home. Even
of those who had higher education (High School or some/college), 48% said they
did not know how to get to the closest evacuation center.
When it comes to trust in emergency preparedness officials, there is reason for
concern. Even before residents determined that the map was not clear and
decipherable, 40% said they do not (somewhat/a little/not at all) trust emergency
directions from city officials. And in terms of overall preparedness, only 16% of
all those surveyed said they have a “Go-Bag” ready in their home. Many of these
individuals listed very few items that are recommended to include in the bag.
While 69.1% said they would include water in a Go-Bag - 64.6% included non-
perishable food, and 44.4% a flashlight, only about a third, 38.8% said they would
include medicine, and only 23.6% thought to include important documents.
Potential limitations of this study are that findings may not be generalizable to
a different population, as this was solely focused on East and Central Harlem . In
addition, seniors in the sample were accessed at Senior Centers, where they may
be more likely to receive formal orientation and education about emergencies.
Indeed, more seniors in our population had “Go-Bags” recommended by the City,
and these had been distributed to them by Senior Center personnel.
Conclusion
There is growing recognition that pursuing health literacy in the realm of public
health contexts is necessary in creating a safer, healthier public (Zarcadoolas, et
al., 2005, 2006a, 2006b, IOM, 2005). Post-Hurricane Katrina, there has been
national attention given to ensuring the public has clear and understandable
emergency preparedness information it can act on. This study of the usability of
GIS map information in the New York City Coastal Storm Plan identifies serious
problems among the public and raises serious doubts that information in this
format meets the objectives of informing the public. Although the OEM has
produced the Plan in 11 languages, this study indicates that, as written, the plan
requires reading tasks that are beyond the abilities of many residents. Based on
this research, we estimate that roughly 160,000 residents of Central and East
Harlem would not be able to find the evacuation center closest to their home,
according to their own understanding of the hurricane evacuation maps.
Future research should focus on analyzing the specific text complexity of GIS
maps so that we can create more accessible, easy to read and use Geographic
8 JHSEM: Vol. 4 [2007], No. 3, Article 16
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Information System maps. These revised tools can then be added to a suite of
public health communications that will enable lay community members to
participate in more meaningful dialogue and informed decision-making processes
about public health and safety issues. Improved maps can play an important role
in presenting and advancing the public’s understanding and engagement in a wide
range of health and safety information, from emergency preparedness
information, to other epidemiologic information, such as asthma rates, diabetes
prevalence, and exposure to toxicants. Central questions for future research
include:
What is the linguistic and design structure of complexity in GIS
information for vulnerable populations (low literate/low SES/ethnic
minorities)?
What does usability testing of GIS maps with low literate adults tell us
about how GIS presentations can be adapted for greater readability and
usability among the target audience?
What are optimal templates for designing GIS maps to advance the use of
these maps among low literate populations?
What are best practice guidelines in writing, designing, and using GIS
map information with general and low literate publics?
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... Map readability for disaster context has been a concern in several studies, although it did not necessarily refer to disaster applications [27][28][29]. Out of the disaster context, a study done by Herman et al. [30] evaluated user performance in interactive and static 3D maps, including their readability, and found statistically significant differences between the two types of maps in effectiveness, efficiency, and subjective preference. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Mobile technologies have become a key potential learning tool for the public in this digital era, particularly for young people. The Indonesian government, through its National Disaster Management Agency, has developed and launched a mobile application called InaRisk Personal to help citizens become more aware of disasters. This paper aims to assess whether this map-based application is effective and efficient as a disaster learning tool for senior high school students by evaluating its readability (efficiency and accuracy of map interpretation) and overall satisfaction with the application by surveying 361 students in West Java, Indonesia. This study also compared the application with printed disaster maps obtained from local governments to roughly examine its performance. The findings show that both measurements (readability and user satisfaction) were higher for the application. We also found that most students prefer to learn about disasters through cartographic visualization on the mobile application with suggestions for improvements compared to the printed maps.
... The negative consequences of low health literacy include compromised abilities to make informed decisions about health issues, to respond to emergency preparedness messages, and to mitigate environmental health threats. As a result, low health literacy leads to poorer health outcomes and greater environmental injustice at the community level (Zarcadoolas et al., 2007). ...
... It cannot be assumed that the targeted group has access to or knows how to use the latest technology. As an example, in one study it was determined that most of the public could not interpret a GIS map (Zarcadoolas et al. 2007). Further, in today's diverse communities there are likely to be many cultures that need to be understood. ...
Chapter
The aim of this chapter to describe and explain the role of science communication as a method to advance environmental education on climate change with a special reference on Africa being one of the regions suffering from the effects of climate-induced disasters and risks in the increased anthropogenic effects of modern development. The overall impression globally and regionally is the scientists are poor communicators on what they do hence are often misunderstood by the media and society over the work they spend their life and effort doing. The buttressing methodological philosophy to this chapter is applied systems approach that views actors, processes, inputs and outputs of the climate change, policy and science as intricately related hence require a trans-disciplinary, interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary approach. However, critical areas of reference are health and diseases, resilient communities, coastal adaptation and farming practices and technologies.
... In light of this limitation, it is concerning that EJ communities face higher barriers accessing information about how to evacuate. Issues include lack of reading skills to understand evacuation maps, speaking a language other than English at home, and a lack of trust of public officials Spence et al. 2007;Zarcadoolas et al. 2007;Brodie et al. 2006;Elder et al. 2007). Providing educational materials and instructions in multiple languages can help ensure that the needs of non-English speaking residents are met. ...
Article
With rising sea levels and possible storm intensification due to climate change, current United States urban coastal flood management strategies will be challenged. Due to limitations of current flood management strategies, evacuation is likely to become increasingly prominent in many coastal areas. Thus it is important to think critically about challenges for successful evacuation planning, particularly for vulnerable communities. This paper brings together the evacuation planning, climate change and environmental justice literatures. We describe the unique challenges that environmental justice communities face with evacuation, and identify best practice guidelines to improve the quality of evacuation planning for these communities. The guidelines presented, while not comprehensive, provide a framework for planners and policymakers to consider when developing evacuation plans, both for current and future climate conditions, and could improve the quality of evacuation planning.
... It cannot be assumed that the targeted group has access to or knows how to use the latest technology. As an example, in one study it was determined that most of the public could not interpret a GIS map (Zarcadoolas et al. 2007). Further, in today's diverse communities there are likely to be many cultures that need to be understood. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The aim of this chapter to describe and explain the role of science communication as a method to advance environmental education on climate change with a special reference on Africa being one of the regions suffering from the effects of climate-induced disasters and risks in the increased anthropogenic effects of modern development. The overall impression globally and regionally is the scientists are poor communicators on what they do hence are often misunderstood by the media and society over the work they spend their life and effort doing. The buttressing methodological philosophy to this chapter is applied systems approach that views actors, processes, inputs and outputs of the climate change, policy and science as intricately related hence require a trans-disciplinary, interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary approach. However, critical areas of reference are health and diseases, resilient communities, coastal adaptation and farming practices and technologies.
... Over 93 million adults have basic or below basic literary skills (NAAL 2007). There is evidence that people with less than a high school education are not able to interpret evacuation maps correctly (Zarcadoolas et al. 2007). In order to reach the general public, it is recommended that educational materials have a reading level of 6th grade or lower, yet most emergency management materials are written at a much higher level. ...
Article
The importance of geographic information system (GIS) in daily life is well known as it is really helpful and eases the user. GIS is basically a database system with software that can analyse and display data using digitized maps and tables for planning and decision-making. Unfortunately, there are people in rural area that far from unreachable to apply this GIS tool in life. Thus, this reviewed study aimed to provide further understanding of the application of GIS in emergency preparedness for rural areas. It also will be able to recognize a management information system for rural planning. This systematic literature review concentrates on previous research starting from 2015 to 2020 to evaluate the application of GIS in mapping, transportation planning and network service. From 24 papers that have been analysed under eligibility test, 37.5% of them reviewed on the application of GIS, another 37.5% on emergency preparedness and 25% for rural area. The result shows there is a common type of knowledge and the way it can respond to emergency preparedness. Nevertheless, there are fewer cases related to rural areas and it shows the need for more case studies and experimental research to support this promising field. In conclusion, to meet present day and future information needs for emergency preparedness, more attention needs to be given to evaluate the effectiveness of GIS in rural areas.
Chapter
This chapter describes and explains the role of science communication to advance environmental education on climate change with a special reference on Africa being one of the regions suffering from the effects of climate-induced disasters and risks in the increased anthropogenic effects of modern development. It is argued that scientists are poor communicators on what they do, and hence, are often misunderstood by the media and society. This then calls for attention to be paid with regards to science communication, which has to be packaged in ways that make it easier for the generality of citizens to interpret and understand. Efforts in this regard are made possible through environmental education, which has proved to be useful in the discourse of disaster risk management in different parts of the world. The buttressing methodological philosophy to this chapter is applied systems approach. Critical areas of reference are health and diseases, resilient communities, coastal adaptation, and farming practices and technologies.
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter describes and explains the role of science communication to advance environmental education on climate change with a special reference on Africa being one of the regions suffering from the effects of climate-induced disasters and risks in the increased anthropogenic effects of modern development. It is argued that scientists are poor communicators on what they do, and hence, are often misunderstood by the media and society. This then calls for attention to be paid with regards to science communication, which has to be packaged in ways that make it easier for the generality of citizens to interpret and understand. Efforts in this regard are made possible through environmental education, which has proved to be useful in the discourse of disaster risk management in different parts of the world. The buttressing methodological philosophy to this chapter is applied systems approach. Critical areas of reference are health and diseases, resilient communities, coastal adaptation, and farming practices and technologies.
Article
Hurricanes are low-probability, high-consequence events that pose a challenge for disaster planning and management. In the United States, one of the primary ways of ensuring safety from these storms is evacuation. Changing population demographics, risk evaluations, and sociopolitical priorities necessitate occasional updates and revisions to evacuation maps. What are the political and ethical considerations of these map revisions for municipal officials and emergency management professionals? This paper develops an in-depth policy case study of the June 2013 revision of the NYC Emergency Management (formerly Office of Emergency Management or OEM) hurricane evacuation map after Irene and Sandy. By using interviews, document review, geospatial analysis, and process tracing, the research clarified the political narratives advanced upon the release of the new map. This paper finds the mayoral desire for evacuation flexibility, ethical obligation to vulnerable constituencies, and professionalism of the emergency management community drove this recent innovation in coastal storm emergency management. As the result of a long-term process initiated before the hurricanes, OEM’s incorporation of its historical flood experience and adaptation of federal modeling data to suit local social vulnerability planning could serve as a precedent for other municipalities facing similar, complex hazards at the urban scale.
Conference Paper
Public health management needs information on various aspects like the prevalence of diseases, facilities that are available in order to take decisions on either creating infrastructure facilities or for taking immediate action to handle the situation and so on. These decisions need to be taken based on the observations made and available data. As the data relates to Public health covering the whole state and the entire population the data is voluminous, and hence it is extremely difficult to understand the real content. The data needs to be presented in a way that the temporal and spatial nature of the problem can be brought out in a focussed way. Spatial variations in health related data is well known, and its study is a fundamental aspect of epidemiology. Most epidemiological data have a location and time reference. Advanced spatial analysis includes the combination of different data layers. Health authorities, for example, may be interested in the estimates of the number of children in a certain age group that may be exposed to malaria. Climatic and topographic data can be used to determine the range of malaria mosquitoes. This range is unlikely to follow the panchayat union boundaries, but in GIS the two data layers can still be combined to derive the number of children living within the affected areas in a particular panchayat union. In short, the availability of statistical and other information in spatially referenced form and the functions provided by a GIS could allow analyses that were previously too expensive or impossible to perform. Geographic Information System (GIS) is an innovative technology, ideal for generating data suitable for analysis both with respect to space and time.
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