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Open Source: Helping Governments Mitigate Natural Disasters

No matter how sophisticated technologies become and how much mankind evolves, there is little—if anything—we can do to prevent natural disasters from occurring. What we can do, however, is implement technologies that help streamline the way we respond to such disasters.

And that’s where the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) comes into the equation. The organization educates governments and communities on how to respond most efficiently and effectively to natural disasters. One aspect of that management is Code for Resilience, an initiative run by the GFDRR that leverages the power of open source, bringing risk management decision makers and software developers together to work collaboratively on solving disaster-related issues.

For Dr. Alanna Simpson, senior disaster risk management specialists at GFDRR, such collaboration is one of the biggest perks of the open source and open data movements: bringing together two parties that might not interact with one another otherwise. There are proprietary tools governments can leverage to help reduce the risks associated with disasters, but those tools are often expensive, meaning many governments don’t have the funds to deploy them, particularly in today’s challenging economy.

That’s what makes open source so attractive.

“Open source software and the availability of open data really lower the barrier for everyone to participate,” Simpson said. After all, the technology can be extremely cost-effective, with governments around the globe realizing substantial cost savings by choosing to deploy open source solutions.

Some of the best approaches to disaster risk mitigation, Simpson said, combine top-down and bottom-up approaches to data collection. Indonesia has served as an example of this philosophy in action, taking a community-based approach to disaster risk management. Since 2011, the project has mapped more than 1 million buildings across the country using open source tools they developed for that particular cause.

To date, GFDRR has empowered 40 million people in 24 countries to access information related to natural risk hazards. The group hopes that governments will be better equipped to respond to natural disasters when they do unfortunately occur in the future.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lacey Thoms

Lacey Thoms is a marketing specialist and blogger at Protecode, a provider of open source license management solutions. During her time at Protecode, Lacey has written many articles on open source software management. She has a background in marketing communications, digital advertising, and web design and development. Lacey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications from Carleton University.

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