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Principles for data management, visualization, and communication to improve disaster response management: Lessons from the Hurricane Maria response mission

Marin M. Kress, PhD, Katherine F. Chambers, MS, Darixa D. Hernández-Abrams, MS, S. Kyle McKay, PhD, PE


Data visualization and communication are important components in disaster response management. Data management should be a basic part of emergency preparation in the same way as prepositioning essential supplies. For this preparation to be effective, well-conceived data structures and data collection systems must be in place before disasters happen, and required hardware should be designed to operate in contingency environments. However, due to challenges in disaster complexities and data management, there is still a pressing need for improvement. This paper identifies key principles to assist practitioners and software developers in designing and implementing data collection and reporting systems that can be used for data visualization during a disaster response. The authors reviewed existing literature on data and disaster management and incorporated their personal experiences as first responders with the US Army Corps of Engineers Hurricane Maria response mission to develop principles for improving data management and visualization during a disaster response. These principles are illustrated by two case studies from the Task Force Power and Operation Blue Roof mission efforts in Puerto Rico during 2017-2018. Suggested principles include considering data management as part of disaster preparedness, having flexible data tools resilient to unprecedented disaster outcomes, eg, interruption of telecommunications networks, and using diverse graphics and tools that are appropriate to their communication purpose and audience.


Puerto Rico, temporary roofing, power restoration, geospatial analysis, Task Force Power, Operation Blue Roof, Hurricane Maria

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