Disaster Defeats High-Tech Recovery Effort

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-05-06 Print this article Print

A sophisticated disaster plan called Strong Angel proved inadequate to deal with the scope and location of December's Indian Ocean tsunami, despite the best technology the U.S. military and relief organizations could muster.

Major natural disasters are always a surprise in that no one is sure when or where one will hit. But on a macro level, it's no surprise that they will occur, often in parts of the world with little ability to recover on their own or the infrastructure to support multinational relief efforts.

To be ready, the U.S. military, academics and international relief organizations set up a contingency plan called Strong Angel that put information technology at the center of rescue efforts.

When December's Indian Ocean tsunami gave Strong Angel a chance to stretch its wings, however, the tsunami came out the winner. Lack of infrastructure, lack of information and lack of coordination weakened the effort and showed that smart technologists can make bad choices even when the stakes are as high as they can possibly get.

Here's how the disaster and recovery efforts played out:

Introduction: Technology Disappoints in Tsunami Relief Tsunami disaster area defeats best efforts of high-tech relief effort.

  • Bad Data Nixes Good Planning
  • Low Expectations Were Still Too High
  • Technology Wasn't the Only Problem
  • Even Satellites Lacked Sufficient Reach
  • Groove: The Humanitarian Tool
  • Discovering That Simple IT Is Good IT
  • Real Problems Tougher Than Planners Imagined
  • Strong Angel Team: Basic Stats

    Related Stories:

  • Can't Tell the Players Without a Program: Who's Who in the Strong Angel Project
  • Automatic Translators May Be More Trouble Than They're Worth
  • Comparing First-World Disasters to Third World: Keeping Disneyland Safe
  • Key Strong Angel Collaboration Tool Absorbed by Microsoft
  • Wary Partners: How Armed Services Become Rescue Operators


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