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Open Data for Transparent and Effective Disaster Relief

Support for those affected by disasters is critical. By developing more comprehensive tools that prepare citizens and government before the next event helps.  Helping communities rebuild and become more resilient to extreme weather in the future is vital.

Citizens need to be able to access accurate information in real time, before, during and after these devastating events. The growing open data collaboration between data producers and data users can help with recovery efforts while being more transparent and local.

Industry startups and others in the open-data space have shown that they are an incredible resource when it comes to creating tools that citizens and government can use to be better prepared for a crisis. Open data has made mobile apps possible that identify the location of hundreds of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) when someone nearby is in need of a lifesaving procedure. Another app maps out all the fire hydrants in Boston, so volunteers can dig them out after a snowstorm. But, more can be done.

According to Ann Mills, USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment, “Open data and the innovation it supports is essential to supporting 21st century disaster preparedness and planning in a climate changing world.”

The USDA Open Data submission for this quarter concentrated on Disaster Relief data. Seventy-four datasets were collected that related to disasters of all kinds.  It is USDA’s goal that the data will be used to spur development of the tools necessary which would assist those needing help or those responding to help. We encourage you to use the USDA open data sets to create solutions for communities. These datasets could give populations the ability to access the necessary resources in order to be better prepared for a disaster as well as promote economic recovery after one occurs.  Importantly, these resources also could help communities better prepare for future drought and other extreme weather events, and reduce their impact on livelihoods and their economy.

We don’t know when the next disaster will strike, but we believe the open-data movement is beginning to make government work better, save money and increase transparency. Both the private and public sectors need to step up and make comprehensive disaster preparedness technology a priority.

2 Responses to “Open Data for Transparent and Effective Disaster Relief”

  1. Shadrock says:

    After following the link to the USDA Ope Data Submission, I failed to find “74 datasets related to disaster of all kinds.” There certainly are a lot of data sets, but could you please specifically identify the disaster-related data sets?

  2. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Shadrock: thank you for your comment. You may search for these datasets on using Disaster Relief, Disaster Designation, Disaster Assistance and Disaster as keywords. Because USDA’s Disaster-related datasets do not use the same keywords and because does not have a consolidated page for all Disaster-related information within USDA, we are unable at this time to provide all 74 datasets in one place.

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