FEMA launches disaster dataviz tool
- By Amanda Ziadeh
- Jun 18, 2015
Thanks to a new data visualization tool from FEMA, citizens and local emergency managers can get a better understanding the relative risk and impact of disasters. The interactive tool maps historical disaster declaration data in an effort to help communities plan for disasters and understand assistance spending.
As part of the OpenFEMA initiative, the Federal Emergency Management Agency both released the raw historical data and made it available through interactive and readable maps.
Users can view disaster declarations by hazard type, location, year (back to 1953) and the financial support provided, all through an easily viewable and clickable interface, while still having access to raw datasets for research and analysis.
Summaries of FEMA support for fire, preparedness, mitigation, individual assistance and public assistance grants are available as well.
The tool even offers a step-by-step search process and displays immediate results with preparation tips, a helpful resource during the upcoming hurricane season. Those in affected areas can find the history of hurricanes in their immediate community and what they can do to effectively prepare based on historic data and FEMA’s experience.
“Providing data in its raw format and also building visualization tools allows people to look at their past history, look at what kind of hazards they are vulnerable to, and look at the frequency of disaster declarations and the impacts,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in a blog post.
Visualizing the “hot spots” where disasters and recovery money overlap makes it easier to understand disaster impacts and helps people ask the right questions when it comes to why certain communities have historically received the assistance they have from state and local governments, Fugate said.
The data can also help governments more accurately anticipate the financial impact of a disaster. If a community shares characteristics with another that has already experienced a major disaster, local emergency management will have a better idea of how to plan and allocate resources for the future.
“By providing this information in a way that is visual and easy to understand, people will be moved to action to prepare their families and communities,” said Tim Manning, FEMA’s deputy administrator of protection and national preparedness.
Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.