Inderscience Publishers

When natural disasters strike: managing individual and organisational needs with web–based systems

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Increased impacts and frequency of recent natural disasters have given rise to the need for finding new ways to enhance disaster preparedness, planning and management. Web–based information systems have demonstrated the usefulness of websites in recent disasters. However, little is known about the contents of web–based information management for disaster management and the needs and requirements of those who use it. In this paper, we focus on identifying the contents of a web–based disaster management system from the perspectives of multiple stakeholders (victims and aid providers), the needs the system should meet, and crisis behaviours that the system should anticipate. We propose two conceptual models to investigate how these categories of web–design elements could enhance victims' coping mechanisms and reduce impacts of natural disasters on individuals (Model 1) and businesses (Model 2). Extending the theories of task–technology fit and self–efficacy, we propose the concepts of need–web element fit, behaviour–web element fit, and disaster self–efficacy. We formulate an assessment model for dealing with the effectiveness of the proposed design. The contribution of this work is in assisting organisations, managers, and individuals involved in disaster management to create effective and efficient web–based tools that prepare for disasters and deal with the aftermath of disasters once they occur.

Keywords: natural disasters, multi–perspective approach, need–web element fit, behaviour–web element fit, disaster self–efficacy, web–based information systems, individual disaster needs, organisational disaster needs, conceptual modelling, disaster management, emergency management, crisis management, information management, internet, business continuity, emergency response

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