Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam: Paper - II (General Studies – I) - 01 August 2019

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam

UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-II: General Studies - I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)

Q. Technology has proven its might in different field of life and it can also be effective in disaster management (i.e. prevention, mitigation, response and recovery). In this context, discuss the role of technology in disaster management. (250 words)

Model Answer:

  • Introduction
  • Role of Information Technology in disaster management
  • Conclusion


Technological innovation is bringing digital solutions to sectors that have previously lacked access to technology, including the non-profit community. The rapid pace of this changesuggests that one of technology’s most meaningful benefits for society may lie in the humanitarian sector, which must reach large numbers of people, in remote and dangerous locations, to provide critical resources fast and efficiently.

Role of Information Technology in disaster management:

  • Technology can go where people cannot and where rescue efforts puts the lives of responders at risk: Aerial robotics, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aka drones, show tremendous potential to transform humanitarian aid. Using this technology, organizations can map terrain more effectively, assess damage in real time, increase situational awareness through high-resolution mapping and deliver items faster, cheaper and more efficiently.

Lower in cost, lighter in weight (as little as three pounds) and quieter than helicopters or planes, with pre-programmed routes that enable them to fly in life-threatening conditions, these “digital responders” provide access to otherwise unreachable areas.

In addition, infrared cameras and advanced listening systems enable UAVs to uncover survivors from rubble or among flames and live-stream night footage, increasing the success of critical rescue efforts.

  • GIS AND REMOTE SENSING: GIS provides a tool for effective and efficient storage and manipulation of remotely sensed data and other spatial and non-spatial data types for both scientific management and policy oriented
  • This can be used to facilitate measurement, mapping, monitoring and modelling of variety of data types related to natural phenomenon.
  • The specific GIS application in the field of Risk Assessment are Hazard Mapping to show earthquake, landslides, floods or fire hazards.
  • Theses map could be created for cities, districts or even for the entire country and tropical cyclone Threat Maps are used by meteorological departments to improve the quality of the tropical storm warning services and quickly communicate the risk to the people likely to get affected by the Eg.: GIS and Remote Sensing can be used for preparing seismic hazards maps in order to assess the exact nature of risks.
  • GIS can be used in carrying out search and rescue operations in a more effective manner by identifying areas that are disasters prone and zoning them accordingly to risk magnitudes
  • Electronic communication: In the present era of electronic communication, the internet provides a useful platform for disaster mitigation communications.
  • Launching of a well defined web site is a very cost-effective means of making an intra-national and international presence felt.
  • It provides a new and potentially revolutionary option for the rapid, automatic, and global dissemination of disaster information. A number of individuals and groups, including several national meteorological services, are experimenting with the Internet for real-time dissemination of weather observation, forecasts, satellite and other
  • In the most critical phase of natural disasters electronic communication have provided the most effective and in some instances perhaps the only means of communication with the outside world.

Technology breaks down barriers to enable connectivity when we need it most:

In times of disaster, basic connectivity is a form of aid that connects people to the resources critical for survival and enables humanitarian organizations to quickly deliver life-saving information.

For example, Cisco’s Tactical Operations (TacOps), takes advantage of the latest mobile networking technology, including cloud-controlled Meraki technology, to establish connectivity when disaster strikes, often faster than government or local providers can. The TacOps team, comprised of highly-skilled internet infrastructure specialists and supported by a global network of volunteers, can be ready to assist anywhere within a few days. From the refugee crisis in Uganda or Nepal’s 7.8 earthquake to Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria, since 2005, TacOps has responded to 45 disasters on six continents.

  • WARNING AND FORECASTING SYSTEM: An advance system of forecasting, monitoring and issuing early warnings plays the most significant role in determining whether a natural hazard will assume disastrous proportions or
  • Indian Metrological Department (IMD)provides cyclone warnings from the Area Cyclone Warning Centres (ACWCs) It has developed the necessary infrastructure to originate and disseminate the cyclone warnings at appropriate
  • Seismological observations in the country are made through national network of 36 seismic stations operated by the IMD, which is the nodal
  • Long term drought proofing programmes on the natural resources of the district have been greatly helped by the use of satellite data obtained by National Remote Sensing Agency.
  • The drought assessment is based on a comparative evaluation of satellite observed green vegetation cover (both area and greenness) of a district in any specific time period by the National Agricultural Drought Assessment and Management System (NADAMS).
  • Flood forecasts and warnings are issued by the Central Water Commission (CWC) , Ministry of Water Resources. These are used for alerting the public and for taking appropriate measures by concerned administrative and state engineering agencies in the flood hazard.

Mobile solutions, social media and digital communities provide a new way for organizations and their beneficiaries to communicate: Today, through the proliferation of mobile and social media solutions, relief communications have evolved to the benefit of all. This includes the development of a feedback loop through which information collected is applied to develop a deeper and more real-time understanding of both sector and service user needs, leading to faster, more efficient responses which ultimately supports beneficiaries.

For example, the World Food Programme (WFP) is challenged to assist 80 million people across 80 countries worldwide each year, moving three million tons of food. WFP’s Mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) uses mobile technology to address the barrier of aggregate and manual data collection, that often leads to outdated and inefficient data collection. Deployed in more than 30 countries, mVAM delivers 20,000 surveys per month for an annual cost saving of $5 million and a 75% reduction in the time spent collecting surveys.

The WFP and Cisco partnered to explore the use of SMS and voice response technology (IVR) to collect data directly from beneficiaries, making it possible to gather responses from some of the world’s most vulnerable communities rapidly and in an affordable way. This year, the partnership will pilot the use of chatbots for even deeper interaction between beneficiaries and organizations.

  • Big data analytics creates a new era of intelligence for disaster response: Vast amounts of data are created during times of disaster including personal and medical data, the geolocation of roads, the tracking of survivors, and more. Managing this data presents challenges, but when effectively employed, it provides crucial information on which to act, prioritizes and optimizes response efforts and, via crowdsourcing, enhances situational awareness.

Ushahidi, for example, is an open-source crisis-mapping software that creates a database of geotagged and time-stamped reports gathered via email, SMS, or tweets. From this information, it builds a comprehensive, real-time picture of what is happening on the ground. Today, Ushahidi V3, or “Ushahidi in the Cloud”, can be accessed by anyone, even non-developers. The platform has been used in 140 countries, reaching more than 20 million people through more than 100,000 deployments.

In Puerto Rico, global non-profit NetHope has partnered with Face book to provide enhanced disaster response by effectively targeting social media audiences. Complex data analytics enable the organization to target the right messages to the right audiences, including information from third parties such as FEMA, Doctors Without Borders, and local non-profits.


Advancement in Information Technology in the form of Internet, GIS, Remote Sensing, Satellite communication, etc. Can help a great deal in planning and implementation of hazards reduction. For maximum benefit, new technologies for public communication should be made use and natural disaster mitigation messages should be conveyed through these measures.

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