Finding and Focusing on Those in Most Need
When I was working through graduate school, I was told that research matters regardless of the area being studied. The hard truth was, without quality research, we just had an opinion. Research matters and recent developments in a research program has allowed first responders after an emergency to help those most in need first. The system referred to as the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) allows for the leveraging of social vulnerability research for evenhanded emergency response and recovery.
The Social Vulnerability Index measures the social vulnerability of areas to hazards. The index is a comparative metric that examines the differences in social vulnerability among survivors after an emergency or disaster.
Using the Social Vulnerability Index to allocate (often scarce) resources before, during, and after disasters allows for a clear and sustained unity of effort among organizations. Organization such as The Salvation Army are well equipped to feed large numbers of people, but this takes time. If through the Social Vulnerability Index they could preposition resources closer to the area’s most vulnerable, the resources could get into the hands of those who need it faster.
In addition to the lives that could be saved through streamlining the process, the use of an accepted program would potentially reduce some of the political debates that occur during and immediately after an event. When a local political leader begins throwing a fit over the lack of resources, his/her area received, they could be pointed toward the data collected and available in the SoVI and their arguments are rendered mute.
Research matters and identifying the value of the Social Vulnerability Index could make our jobs as Emergency Managers so much easier.