Community Resilience in Emergency Management
Robin was joined by Ginny Katz, CEO of HazAdapt to discuss community resilience and inclusivity in emergency management; including the importance of helping diverse, everyday people connect to safety resources, adapt to emergencies, and overcome them. We also learned about how HazAdapt's own humanity-friendly platform supports bottom-up resilience and information sharing between the public and emergency management agencies.
What is HazAdapt?
HazAdapt is an emergency assistant and hazard guide for both emergency managers and the public, available on both app stores and on the web. HazAdapt helps communities to understand and plan what to do before, during, and after an emergency. It can also help connect the public to the correct crisis response resources they may need during an emergency.
Emergency Assistant & Localized Safety Information
HazAdapt’s Emergency Assistant allows the public to quickly find and tailor emergency information and bookmark important instructions for easy access when they’re needed most. Safety information and resources can even be tailored to a person’s current location.
Prep Checks is a self-assessment tool for the public to help check their disaster and emergency preparedness levels for 25+ natural and man-made hazards. The tool provides a personal preparedness score in minutes and enables citizens to how well they might cope with a particular hazards and what they can do to prepare and strengthen their resilience.
How is HazAdapt used during emergencies?
With weather-related emergencies such as hurricanes, there tends to be some time to prepare ahead as we most likely know one is approaching. HazAdapt contains a preparedness function where you can see emergency planning measures and advice. There it will guide members of the public as to how to prepare themselves, their homes, family, and pets, etc. for various incidents. HazAdapt can not only help you with planning for a weather event like a hurricane but, it can also help you with the side effects of disasters caused from the hurricane such as flooding and power outages. Once the hurricane has passed HazAdapt can help the public find resources to help them and those around them recover, for example providing tips for clean-up, and connecting communities to recovery resources.
Bottom-up vs. top-down emergency management
Top-down emergency management technology, such as D4H, provides support to emergency managers for incident command and managing the crisis. The ‘Bottom-Up Approach’ means starting with the people, giving the public the tools and resources they will need for their own disaster response while also helping them connect to that top resource.
Bottom-up really refers to servicing the most vulnerable first and that’s the public.
Ginny Katz, Founder and CEO of HazAdapt
Combining top-down technology such as D4H’s emergency management software tools with bottom-up technology like HazAdapt is a powerful way of ensuring disaster resilience at every level.
What is humanity friendly technology in emergency management?
Humanity-friendly technology refers to the development and implementation of technological innovations that prioritize the well-being, interests, and values of humanity as a whole. It involves creating and utilizing technology in ways that promote human welfare, sustainability, inclusivity, and ethical considerations.
HazAdapt is built by a standard of tech ethics, meaning the technology built by the team at HazAdapt is inclusive in how it’s designed. The team uses strategic design and implementation tactics to ensure their tech is inclusive. This means the tech at HazAdapt is inclusive to various cognitive learning styles. The team ensures that HazAdapt is always easy to use, with all information written between a 3rd and 8th grade reading level. The team’s goal is to create a guide that’s easy to use for everybody. Another way HazAdapt has incorporated humanity-friendly tech ethics into their service is that they are geared to build individuals and communities, to work together to build resilience.
Humane technology in emergency management
Humane technology, refers to the design, development, and use of technology with a primary focus on promoting human well-being and balance. It recognizes the potential negative effects of technology on individuals, communities, and society as a whole and seeks to mitigate those effects while enhancing human experiences and quality of life. Humane technology is a new movement for technology that doesn’t take advantage of people. At HazAdapt, humane technology is an identification for what pitfalls that can be avoided to make sure that technology isn’t taking advantage of people and that it’s boosting the benefits, while avoiding polarization, ensuring togetherness and a shared reality with technology.
Humanity Friendly tech is those three main points, Inclusivity and Equity, Community Centered, and Humane Technology all in one.
Ginny Katz, Founder and CEO of HazAdapt
About Ginny Katz, Founder and CEO of HazAdapt
Ginny’s background is in disaster and diseases, beginning her career in disease control she discovered her passion for public health. Ginny has also completed a masters in Global Health. As an Artist and Digital Communicator, Ginny wanted to take both and combine them to support disaster response and preparedness in community resilience using her love of digital tools. Ginny studied and became passionate about GIS while studying for her Masters Degree and she was on track to become a GIS emergency response specialist.
It was during one of Ginny’s internships working within her local community she discovered the need to create an ethical platform to support community resilience ‘Bottom-Up’. She then began her Phd and built HazAdapt during her Phd research with other students on her campus. It is there she met her co-founders in a computer science class. In 2019, Ginny and her team gave their first pitch of HazAdapt to her local community and emergency managers, for which they won third place and received $200. Since then, the team at HazAdapt have continued to build relationships with emergency managers in the communities, working hand in hand to craft the platform and tool HazAdapt, that people can use during all sorts of disasters.
Ginny comes from a long line of emergency responders, with both her parents and grandparents working in some form of first response. This is what inspired her career in emergency management, giving her an urgency of being there for people on the front lines. Originally Ginny thought she was going to pursue a career in medicine, however she was introduced to Public Health and Global Health and the opportunity to serve more people, which inspired her drive to help the most people possible.
Helping people on their worst day possible, when they are most vulnerable, that’s where emergency management comes in, because they are there throughout the entire disaster cycle supporting the community, and I thought that was the most beautiful and highest calling, and I get to apply my love of digital communication in this realm.
Ginny Katz, Founder and CEO of HazAdapt
Dangers in the Afters
Disasters that are infrastructure-damaging such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes can remain dangerous post-disaster as people try to navigate a potential loss of a home or a loss of other infrastructure, especially if they are reliant on electricity for water, medication, and food. Most emergency management entities prepare resources for their public but as we see disasters become more frequent and severe, we have to reconsider how we are boosting the public to be able to also help themselves while emergency management is still trying to also support them during the disaster.
Resources for Emergency Managers
HazAdapt works hand in hand with local emergency management and communities to craft the best potential tool to help emergency management at every level. While the tool does not replace 911 services, it fills the gaps that are hurting the public when it comes to disaster response.
How Emergency Managers can use HazAdapt
HazAdapt is a free service, which can help emergency managers elevate alerts to inclusive hazard and information resources. In all hazard guides on HazAdapt you will find a list of Sources, these are professional and credited sources that the team of experts at HazAdapt use to cultivate the information pulling from national resources and credited research.
Our commitment is to make this tool equitable no matter where you are at on the wealth and poverty scale, this is an approachable resource.
Ginny Katz Founder CEO HazApdapt
Keeping the public informed during an emergency
In combination with fostering emergency preparedness and resilience at the’bottom-up’ level, keeping the public informed during an emergency at the EMA level is also crucial for the safety, preparedness, and well-being of the public. Effective communication empowers individuals to make informed decisions, reduces panic, fosters community support, and strengthens the overall response to the crisis.
D4H Incident Management is a cloud-based system for emergency managers where all information can be centrally collected during a disaster. There is no transcribing, no duplication of effort, and no wasted energy trying to find the current status.
When an incident is being managed with a real-time platform like D4H, information regarding resources, shelters, road closures, power outages, vaccination centers, etc. is recorded in pre-configured, highly customizable Status Boards, so the only problem left to solve is how to get that information to the public.
Within D4H, it’s easy to create a public link and then share that with the public.
- The public receives immediate updates. With D4H’s ‘Share by Public Link’ functionality, any new information added to a status board within the software will also update for the public on the external link once they refresh the page.
- The public receives only information approved by the Incident Commander.
- The public receive official updates from your team; creating a single source of truth and mitigating misinformation spreading.