Natural disasters are a fact of life and, becoming more common. Over the last two decades, the insurance industry has tracked the frequency and severity of natural disasters and has found a strongly increasing trend. Munich Re, a large reinsurer (essentially a company that sells insurance against loss to major insurance companies) has published figures showing that the number of storms, floods, extreme temperatures, drought, and forest fires in the U.S. came close to tripling between 1980 and 2010. A similar pattern appears in Asia. Another reinsurer, Swiss Re, estimates that 2011 saw $350 billion in economic losses because of catastrophes. That compared with $226 billion in 2010.
Because natural disasters destroy (among other things) infrastructure, they complicate their effects by interrupting normal communications and the ability to both gather and disseminate information.
In this CommPro.biz article, Dr. Devon Cancilla, dean of business and technology at American Sentinel University, discusses the importance of combining GIS and social media to restore infrastructure and manage these natural and sometimes man-made disasters.