Joint follow-on project to ‘Geoinformation for Disaster and Risk Management – Examples and Best Practices’, JBGIS/UNOOSA 2010
In July 2010, the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies (JBGIS) and UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER published ‘Geoinformation for Disaster and Risk Management – Examples and Best Practices’, a compilation of case studies that provides information on what can be done with geoinformation in support of disaster and risk management – methods, systems, applications, experiences. As a next logical step it is planned to provide information on what is the value of geoinformation – an evaluation of benefits. A publication to that end would further help
Objective: The intention is to produce a publication to give evidence of the economic, humanitarian and organizational benefits which can be realized by applying geoinformation to disaster management, based on analyses of representative cases, and on an expert stakeholder assessment.
Two-fold approach: Two methods will be applied in this project in order to ensure a holistic view on the benefits of geoinformation for disaster management and best possible coverage of the disaster management cycle.
Socio-Economic Benefit Analysis: In a classical Cost-Benefit-Analysis the costs of an investment are compared with the monetary value of societal and economic benefits generated thereby. Whereas the costs of a given geoinformation product can be easily estimated by any geodata or GIS provider, monetizing its societal benefit is more complicated and fuzzy. A Call for Papers will be issued, addressing the scientific community in the field of socio-economic research on disaster management. Contributions shall be based on analyses of real disaster cases rather than on theoretical approaches.
Expert Stakeholder Assessment: A reference set of different geodata product descriptions will be identified and distributed to a group of potential users (practitioners as well as planners and decision-makers, affiliated to public disaster management bodies, international organizations and NGOs), together with a template for product appraisal. This template will specify a list of criteria related to various aspects of benefit. Based on a normalized rating schedule, the experts will evaluate all reference products according to the beneficial impact which can be attributed to their application. The outcome will be a differentiated evaluation of benefits, which can be supplemented by an implementation cost estimate.
A call for papers and for participation in the expert stakeholder assessment will be issued around midyear 2011.
1. Background and Objective
With the “Best Practices Booklet”, knowledge has been provided on what can be done with appropriate geoinformation to support disaster management: methods, systems, applications, experiences. As a next logical step it would be useful to provide information on what it is worth: an evaluation of benefits. A publication to that end would further help
The intention is to produce a publication to give evidence of the economic, humanitarian, operational and organizational benefit which can be realized by applying geoinformation to disaster management, based on analyses of representative cases, and expert stakeholder assessment as well. The expected outcome is a differentiated, scientifically founded answer to the crucial question: “What is the difference you can make with geoinformation?”
2. Methodical Approach
By the classical Cost-Benefit-Analysis (CBA) approach the costs of an investment are compared with the monetary value of societal and economic benefits generated thereby. Whereas the costs of a given geoinformation product can be easily assessed by any geodata or GIS provider, monetizing societal benefit is more complicated and fuzzy. For example, a comprehensive socio-economic Benefits Analysis has been performed for the services offered by the European GMES programme, including issues of risk and civil protection. An alternative approach, based on evaluation of reference information products through expert stakeholders, was followed to assess the potential benefits of satellite remote sensing application to the mandatory tasks of the German Federal Ministry for Environment and Nuclear Safety.
Both approaches are applied in this project, taking into account that the monetized benefit analysis will probably lend itself more readily to assess the impact of geoinformation products in the phase of early emergency response, when there is a more immediate relationship between information availability and efficiency of relief measures. In addition, an expert stakeholder assessment is the method of choice to evaluate the benefits of geospatial information products with regard to all phases of the disaster management cycle, including prevention and risk reduction.
For a logic flow chart outlining the overall methodology see Fig. 1.
Figure 1: General Approach
2.1 Socio-Economic Benefit Analysis
Work in this context is focused on a thorough review of published papers covering the cross-sectional field of geoinformation, disaster management, and cost-benefit analysis. Dependent on the availability of funds, this literature-based approach is to be complemented by scenario-based case studies addressing recent major disasters.
The expected outcome will be a critical literature overview, highlighting benefits as well as shortcomings and needs, and specifying the particular effects of physical, societal and organizational boundary conditions. Topical case studies are conducted in order to exemplify and quantify major conclusions from the literature review.
2.2 Expert Stakeholder Assessment
This approach is intended to tap the implicit knowledge of the global stakeholder community with regard, from the user perspective, to the practical value of geoinformation under specific aspects of disaster management.
In the essence, a reference portfolio of representative geodata products and information systems is described in terms of major user-relevant features. The resulting product profiles are communicated to the global user community, together with a template for standardized product appraisal. The template specifies criteria related to various aspects of benefit, addressing the likely impact on operational as well as administrative and political issues in disaster management. The evaluators group represents expert stakeholders, i.e. actual or potential users, not providers, of geospatial data products in disaster management. The term “users” is understood to comprise practitioners as well as planners and deciders, affiliated in public disaster management bodies, international organizations and NGOs. These experts are invited to evaluate, by means of a standardized appraisal key, all reference items according to the beneficial impact which can be attributed to their application, and also to assess the criticality of specific product features. The outcome is a differentiated, semi-quantitative evaluation of specific benefits, which are supplemented by a cost estimate. For sake of unbiased judgment, cost estimates are not disclosed to the evaluators in advance.
The global stakeholder community is involved already in the selection of the reference geodata products/systems. To this end, a web-based poll is carried out, where all stakeholders are given the opportunity to identify the 10 most important geodata products on a longlist containing 51 items which have been identified from the JBGIS/UNOOSA “Best Practices Booklet” and from the Space Application Matrix on the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal. Stakeholders may be end users, providers or value adders of geoinformation. According to the poll results the shortlist of reference products/systems is defined and disseminated for appraisal, as described above.
The assessment results are analyzed with respect to, e.g., thematic distribution and clustering, geographical distribution, disaster types addressed, disaster management cycle phases covered, critical priorities, cost-benefit relations, major benefit issues, etc.
For an overview on the complete Expert Stakeholder Assessment process see Fig. 2.
Figure 2: Methodology for Expert Stakeholder Assessment
In the follow-on of the VALID Round Table in May 2011 at the seventh International Symposium on Geo-information for Disaster Management (Gi4DM) in Antalya, the project has gained considerable scientific support. VALID (The Value of Geo-Information for Disaster and Risk Management) is planned as another joint publication of the JBGIS (Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies) and UNOOSA. The intention is to produce a publication to give evidence of the economic, humanitarian and organizational benefits which can be realized by applying geoinformation to disaster management, based on analyses of representative cases, and on expert stakeholder assessment. A publication to this end seems the next logical step following the previous joint ISPRS/UNOOSA publication “Geoinformation for Disaster and Risk Management – Examples and Best Practices” (http://www.un-spider.org/about/portfolio/publications/jbgis-unoosa-booklet).
At two meetings of the VALID editorial group in Munich and Stuttgart, chaired by Professor Orhan Altan of Istanbul Technical University, and Dr. Robert Backhaus, UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER, increased interest of the scientific community in the VALID project work was reported and discussed. This includes the JBGIS member societies, but also IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics), URSI (Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale), and EuroSDR (European Spatial Data Research). EuroSDR as well as the GeoUnions in the framework of ICSU (International Council for Science) will be informed on VALID in more detail at upcoming meetings in Udine and Rome, respectively.
Orhan Altan, in his character as chairman of the JBGIS Ad Hoc Committee on Risk and Disaster Management, has meanwhile invited the member organizations to nominate contact persons for VALID who will constitute a network for more specific scientific and technical cooperation and support. The VALID editorial group could also welcome a new member, Professor John Trinder from the University of New South Wales, Australia, an internationally recognized spatial information expert who has already supported the work on the ISPRS/UNOOSA “ Best Practices Booklet”.
A major pillar of the methodology approach in VALID is stakeholder feedback, conceived as a systematic way to collect the explicit and tacit knowledge of the global expert community about the benefits which can be attributed to specific geoinformation products and services with regard to operational and strategic aspects of disaster management. In the essence, a reference portfolio of representative geodata products and information systems is described in terms of major user-relevant features, such as scale, accuracy, areal coverage, spatial resolution, thematic content, timeliness, repetition frequency, accesss, data format and standardization. The resulting technical profiles will be communicated on the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal to the global user community, together with a template for standardized appraisal.
The global stakeholder community has been involved already in the selection of the reference portfolio. To this end, a web-based poll was carried out on the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal, where all stakeholders, i.e. end users, providers or value adders of geoinformation, were given the opportunity to identify the 10 most important geodata products on a list containing 51 items. These items had been identified before from the JBGIS/UNOOSA “Best Practices Booklet” and from the Space Application Matrix on the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal. The poll was open for registration from 4 May till 5 June 2011, and the call for participation was disseminated also via e-mail distribution by UNGIWG/UN-SPIDER, ISPRS, and attendees of the Gi4DM VALID Round Table, among them the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).
The poll results highlighted the stakeholders’ concern about geoinformation products and services supporting prevention and mitigation as well as response action with emphasis on flood, drought, earthquake, and fire disasters, and will be published in more detail on the UN-SPIDER portal in due course. The reference portfolio for user appraisal is currently under preparation, together with the appraisal template which will address strategic aspects of efficiency and public acceptance of plans and policies, support of superregional consistency and cooperation, reduction of losses in public economy, and support of preventive strategies, as well as operational aspects regarding humanitarian aid, health care, critical infrastructure and security. The web-based appraisal is foreseen to be started in January 2012.