Sunday, July 22, 2012

Disaster Database

EM-DAT is an international disaster database run by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). This Emergency Events Database provides data on the location, size and impact of different types of disaster from 1900 to the present (about 18,000 disasters in total and counting). For educational and investigative purposes a useful feature is the ability to create your own dataset based on your own criteria. You can select regions or countries, specific time periods and specific types of hazards to develop your customized set of data. An interest aspect of the database is that ‘technological’ hazards are included as well as ‘natural’ hazards, so an impression of different types of hazard can be built up. Hazards are divided or defined hierarchically by disaster generic group (natural or technological), subgroup, main type, then sub-type and a sub-sub type! It is not as complicated as it sounds! The impact of each hazard is defined in terms of number of people killed and injured, the number of people made homeless and those requiring immediate assistance after the disaster event as well as the estimated damage caused by the disaster event.
There are also a number of pre-prepared maps and graphs of the location of disasters on a global scale and of trends in disasters. The map below shows flood disasters between 1974 and 2003, which the graph illustrates the trend in the number of technological hazards since 1900. This database could be a very useful tool for exploring trends and patterns of disasters through time at difference scales. The reasons for these trends may require some thinking – increased reporting of disasters, increasing population growth and spread of population into hazardous areas, increasing growth of vulnerable populations to name but a few. Without the initial data through even identifying these patterns to explain would be difficult.

Flood disasters 1974-2003
Trend of numerb of technological disasters since 1900

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