April 2012

Integrating Silos for Effective Response to Disasters

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Sandeep Sehgal, Vice President, Public Sector, India & South Asia, IBM

Looking at better use of ICT for disaster management, public safety and security, one feels that the foremost need is to establish a common data pool that can be accessed by multiple agencies in place of the silo-based systems we tend to have, where multiple agencies are collecting information from multiple sources. There has to be a common system that can integrate these disparate sources and data into a common intelligence pool available to all agencies.

The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil would host the Olympic Games in 2016. It is a city has many common features with Mumbai – it is densely populated, faces heavy rainfall, traffic problems and heavy water-logging.

IBM worked with the city administration to develop a solution to handle the flooding problem. An integrated operations centre with a synoptic view of the entire city from a dashboard was set up. One of the key components of the centre is a solution with meteorological tools that can model weather conditions upto 48 hours in advance. The system can point to areas of potential flooding based on precipitation data, for example. 400 active cameras across the city monitor events form a security perspective so that agencies such as police and the fire department can respond quickly to any incident. The centre has integrated 32 agencies of the city and all city departments are connected to the operation centre 24X7. The entire system has been built on a three tier approach – infrastructure, technology and processes.

It is important to integrate silos of information for effective response. Citizens also need to be educated on how to react to disasters, and disaster-related should be included in school education itself.

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