Designing user-centered decision support systems for climate disasters: What information do communities and rescue responders need during floods?




spatial decision support systems, community knowledge base, disaster response, disaster rescue operators


Flooding events are the most common natural hazard globally, resulting in vast destruction and loss of life. An effective flood emergency response is necessary to lessen the negative impacts of flood disasters. However, disaster management and response efforts face a complex scenario. Simultaneously, regular citizens attempt to navigate the various sources of information being distributed and determine their best course of action. One thing is evident across all disaster scenarios: having accurate information and clear communication between citizens and rescue personnel is critical.

This research aims to identify the diverse needs of two groups, rescue operators and citizens, during flood disaster events by investigating the sources and types of information they rely on and information that would improve their responses in the future. This information can improve the design and implementation of existing and future spatial decision support systems (SDSSs) during flooding events. This research identifies information characteristics crucial for rescue operators and everyday citizens’ response and possible evacuation to flooding events by qualitatively coding survey responses from rescue responders and the public. The results show that including local input in SDSS development is crucial for improving higher-resolution flood risk quantification models. Doing so democratizes data collection and analysis, creates transparency and trust between people and governments, and leads to transformative solutions for the broader scientific community.

Author Biographies

Julia Hillin, MS

Department of Geography, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Bahareh Alizadeh, PhD Student

Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Diya Li, PhD Student

Department of Geography, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Courtney M. Thompson, PhD

Affiliate Faculty, Department of Geography, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Michelle A. Meyer, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Zhe Zhang, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Amir H. Behzadan, PhD

Professor, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE), University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado


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How to Cite

Hillin, J., B. Alizadeh, D. Li, C. M. Thompson, M. A. Meyer, Z. Zhang, and A. H. Behzadan. “Designing User-Centered Decision Support Systems for Climate Disasters: What Information Do Communities and Rescue Responders Need During Floods?”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 22, no. 7, Apr. 2024, pp. 71-85, doi:10.5055/jem.0741.