Degree Plan Description 

My degree in Resilient Technologies in Disaster Management focuses on the implementation of Information Technology in three stages of a disaster: pre-disaster, response, and post-disaster. Disaster management is defined by the National Research Council’s Committee on Using Information Technology to Enhance Disaster Management as “encompassing mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery efforts undertaken to reduce the impact of disasters (4). As part of disaster management, individuals rely upon resilient technologies, defined as reliable and robust IT systems that are “redundant” (contain duplicate systems) and have low points of failure (5). My degree will focus on the use of such technology to provide links between local, regional, and national resources in disaster management (6).

Disaster management relies on technologies such as cell phones, land mobile radio systems, and local and wide area network connections, just to name a few. These technologies normally provide multiple means of communication and the ability to coordinate between local, state, and federal agencies. However, losing network connectivity hampers the use of most communications systems and computer-based technologies that are needed in a disaster. Puerto Rico, for example, lost all major Internet service providers and phone systems due to the main network infrastructure being destroyed during Hurricane Maria. Therefore, there is a need to design resilient technologies that will function during and after disasters. A problem with building and acquiring new technology is that we need to identify technologies that would not only address individual requirements but also be interoperable with the technologies of other communities, agencies, and organizations (7).

 

Given the challenge of bridging the gap between IT and emergency management response, my degree seeks to review past and current disaster responses and frameworks to ensure a better streamlined and effective response. I will draw upon the disciplines of political science and history to gather knowledge on U.S. National security threats, policies, and strategies for protecting our nation against breaches to our national defense systems, terrorist attacks, and mass shootings. Information Systems and Computer Science will help me understand how to design, secure, and manage information systems, as well as understanding specific topics such as Active Cyber Defense. Information systems will help me to gain a fundamental understanding of the ethics, policies, and management of information systems, as well as human-computer interaction in which I have learned to make systems easy to use and access. Because the field of disaster response is stressful for both professionals and victims, psychology courses will help me to gain insight into anxiety and trauma that can result from disasters. Emergency Management courses such as those offered by EHS are also important to supplement my FEMA Independent Study Training.