Developing a task-centric understanding of responders’ post-earthquake building damage information needs and use

Gitanjali Bhattacharjee


Date & Time
Building 3, Rambo Auditorium
Sara K. McBride

After an earthquake, many responding organizations need to understand the scale and distribution of building damage to carry out their work. Yet their building damage information needs and information use remain poorly understood. To clarify those needs, we conducted a two-part survey of building damage information users and providers with experience working in international disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and/or reconstruction. Based on the survey results, we identify six post-disaster tasks that rely on building damage information. We characterize these tasks by their timing and by the necessary qualities of the information upon which they rely. We show that building damage information needs vary by user and evolve with time. We also show that responders’ use of building damage information depends on factors beyond their information needs and extrinsic to the information itself. We describe four such factors – implications of information adoption, impediments to information sharing, varying understandings of disaster, and attitudes toward emerging technologies – and discuss how they influence responders’ information use. An improved understanding of responders’ information needs and use will enable more effective information production, sharing, and research.

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