Importance of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in hazard mitigation and preparedness planning

They need help to successfully accomplish their mission. To develop a better emergency management effort at the level of county emergency management agencies, these agencies must be equipped with tools that help them to overcome their resource shortfalls (Drabek, 1990).These tools must allow them to not only reach information about the geographical, geophysical, and socioeconomic characteristics of their county, but also to determine, visualize, and analyze the possible extent of disasters. Efficient management of potential risks can only be accomplished if the emergency managers are aware of the extent of the possible effects of disasters. Such tools can be developed to act as a decision support system for emergency management agencies, through the use of a geographic information system (GIS) (Fulcher, 1995). Disaster management consists of various cyclical phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Because each phase is geographically related to where people, places, and things are spatially located, GIS can be a valuable tool for analysis purposes throughout each cycle.The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) classifies overall emergency management into four categories: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Mitigation can be described as the efforts that reduce the degree of long-term risk to human life and property from natural and man-made hazards (Ciglar, 1988). Preparedness is the activities that develop operational capabilities for responding to an emergency. Response covers the efforts taken immediately before, during, or directly after an emergency that save lives, minimize property damage, or improve recovery.Recovery includes the activities that restore vital life-support systems to minimum operating standards and long-term activities that return life to normal. Each of the 50 states has its