Regional Perspectives on Digital Disaster Management in Latin America and the Caribbean
In January 2005 the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) was realized in Kobe, Japan. The fact that the Conference was held only weeks after the tragic tsunami that took place in the Indian Ocean region on 26 December 2004, allowed the WCDR to gain a significance that few would have predicted only some weeks before. The conference aimed at defining clear plans for future progress. One outcome was the Hyogo Declaration. Another momentous approach to further commitment was fostered with the adoption of the Hyogo Framework of Action for 2005 - 2015. The WCDR once again highlighted what a problem recognized by the global community in a series of political declarations since the Earth Summit of Rio de Janeiro in 1992: The industrial development of the 20th century has put severe pressure on the environment. One major consequence of this is an increased vulnerability to natural disasters. This trend is likely to rise due to factors such as ongoing land-use changes, settlement in risk-prone areas, increased urbanization and location of strategic, economically important activities in coastal areas (oil extraction, tourism, etc.). Another non-negligible factor is the global climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in line with manifold organizations, institutions and scientists states that an increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of the warming of the world and other changes in the climate systems. Temperature rise, sea-level rise, precipitation change, and an increasing number of droughts and floods will certainly impact human and natural systems such as food and water resources and human settlements (IPCC, 2001). The anthropogenic climate change can therefore increase the risk of weather-related disasters. Meanwhile, the creation, processing, gathering and dissemination of information reached high levels of sophistication. It is often declared that our world has now entered the "Information Age". This term does by no means imply that before no information flow took place. Ever since their existence, Homo sapiens were capable to exchange information. Information was communicated by deploying numerous communication tools and pathways. What has been changed, however are the ways of addressing information and the paths of information trade. Today nearly all information can be digitized and new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have experienced tremendous growth during the past decades, due to their qualitative improvements and decreased costs. In almost all sectors of modern society ICT is applied. In order to be able to adequately deploy these new tools, it is essential that it is relevant to the existing conditions in society. Wisely applied though, these technologies can fulfill both ECLAC - Project Documents Collection Regional Perspectives on Digital Disaster Management in Latin America and the Caribbean functions: to enable and to facilitate directly (or indirectly) the approximation to a given problem (Haqqani, 2005). The rapid evolution of ICT therefore also offers a variety of opportunities to make use of these technologies in time where disaster management is required.
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