Data Analytics Can Save Lives, and It Does

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every government official or personnel around us knew what to do when a mishap occurs, and even citizens knew how to respond to anything from an accident to an earthquake and everyone could work together, despite the threat, to minimize damage and mitigate losses later on?

For a realist, it wouldn’t be hard to dismiss such a utopian model as the stuff of fairytales (if they had any disasters in the first place!). But though it seems such a situation is light years away from us, there is actually a place on earth that has learned from its past how to deal with danger, and has learnt well.

Japan, one of the most developed countries in the world, is a leader when it comes to disaster management and emergency handling. The country has seen some of the worst phases in world history – atomic bomb explosions, a violent tsunami – and continues to bear the brunt of its geologically active islands that manifest in countless earthquakes and volcanoes. And yet, they continue to wonder the world with the innovations.

So, what do they do differently?

Japan has the best emergency management practices in the world. It employs data analysis and collaboration tools, a huge store of data collected through smartphones, cameras and monitoring sensors deployed all across sensitive areas, and a strong law and citizen partnership to create a splendid specimen of technology and humans working together to save lives.

What can we do?

There’s no denying the fact that for us to be as technically competent as Japan would take years. However, there are tools and solutions available today that can, on the basis of powerful analytics, help the authorities across jurisdictional boundaries to work together with the public to manage threats and mitigate effects.

With some efforts towards training personnel and common citizens in the know-how of basic technologies and establishing hi-tech centers for disaster management, a culture of confidence in the face of danger can be created. To get the wheels into action, non-threatening events such as a power outage can be used to test the capabilities. In real danger, these capabilities can be ramped up to higher levels to deal with the situation tactfully.

One can imagine the amount of loss of life and property saved if such a cultural and legislative network of disaster management could be put into practice.

What do you think?

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