Natural disasters are so named for a reason. They devastate entire cities, claim lives and livelihoods, and deplete community resources. Much needs fixing in the wake of the wreckage and the economy is certainly not exempt from Mother Nature’s outbursts. It takes time for people to return to their jobs. When they are finally able to start working again, the infrastructure they need is likely destroyed or at least damaged. Businesses are hit hard.
And it is not just tornados and tsunamis that can cripple an economy. Small, unexpected changes can have a huge impact. Take a warm winter for example: it might not seem like much of a threat, but businesses that depend on seasonally cold weather definitely see it as a disaster. Those could be ski resorts with neighboring restaurants and hotels, businesses that sell winter retail or seasonal tires, or even farmers that depend on frosts as natural pesticides.
We all know that the government, federal and state, is notorious for its poor responses to natural disasters, which are repeatedly described as “too little, too late.” IBM is looking to change that. As part of its Safer Planet initiative, IBM has launched software designed to help emergency response teams prepare for natural disasters. Intelligent Operations Center for Emergency Management aggregates information from vast networks to predict current weather patterns, including storm speed and trajectory. The program analyzes data to generate digital models of how an event could affect a city’s infrastructure before it happens, allowing officials to act preemptively, minimizing casualties and recovery costs. Response teams also would be able to act in a cohesive, coordinated manner because of simplified and increased communication. The platform provides “unified dashboards, real-time alerts and mobile accessibility.”
While this software is intended for government use, one can easily see how such a program could benefit individuals in the private sector. City officials are not the only ones who have infrastructure and resources at risk – everyone does. It is true that most businesses are not likely to enjoy the insurance of a natural disaster response team, and not all aspects of IBM’s new software would be helpful to them. Still, if you were able to determine how a storm would damage your capital, you might be able to recover more quickly. You might even be able to avoid the damage altogether. Because of the advanced warning, you would have the opportunity to put things in place to keep your business running as smoothly as possible during the storm. Even if there is not software like this for private sector purchase (yet), when your city uses this technology, you will benefit directly from their increased capabilities.