The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Ministry of Public Works are employing new technology to conduct building damage assessments in the Dorian-hit islands.
“In the past, data collection was a tedious process; information was collected on paper and then transferred to Excel. Now, this innovative way of data collection produces real-time interactive reports for rapid assessments,” said Gayle Outten-Moncur, Manager of NEMA’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).
Francis Clarke, senior engineer with the Ministry of Public Works, said the Building Damage Assessment (BDA) toolkit designed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is being used to quickly assess damage to private residences, public buildings and non-residential buildings affected by Hurricane Dorian.
To date, around 3,000 houses in Grand Bahama and Abaco have been assessed using the online tool. The data collected in the field will assist the government in estimating the total cost of Dorian’s damage and planning new and more resilient public policies to build back better.
Since 2017, the UNDP has been supporting other Caribbean countries in the aftermath of natural disasters through the BDA Toolkit. It was implemented in Barbuda and Dominica following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, respectively, and uses an online questionnaire on mobile devices that provides real-time geo-referenced reports.
Prior to the use of the BDA methodology, building damage assessments were paper-based processes that could take months, and even years, for data to be collected and processed to be used by policymakers.
“The BDA toolkit will also inform the prioritisation for risk-informed rehabilitation and rebuilding, assist the government on the quantification of damage, prioritise for faster recovery, monitoring and can also help with policy-making for disaster preparedness,” said Mr Clarke.
“The tool has been useful, since it allows users to upload the information straight away. Reports can be generated in real-time for review and analysis.”
More than 2,500 buildings have been assessed in Grand Bahama to-date, along with 400 properties in the Spring City and Central Pines areas of Great Abaco.