After a disaster local government, state representatives, and FEMA work together to perform a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) to determine the impact and magnitude of the damage and survey the needs of the community.

In 2008 the Government Accountability Office reported these initial damage estimates immediately following a disaster have been off by over 55%.

Preliminary Damage Assessment Accuracies

Percentage Difference between Estimated and Actual Costs for 83 Noncatastrophic Natural Disasters from 2000 through 2004

The inaccuracies with the preliminary damage assessments has caused FEMA problems in trying to determine the funding levels needed and caused local communities problems in determining resources needed for recovery efforts, such as workload for debris removal contractors and building code inspectors.

In a May 2012 the DHS Office of Inspector General documented several reasons for the inaccuracies of PDAs: Continue Reading

Emergency Management recently posted an article on the adoption of mobile tablets for mobile damage assessments.  Software companies are noticing this trend as well.  At the Virginia Emergency Management Symposium last week there were three companies that offered solutions mobile damage assessment, including Crisis Track where we exhibited our damage assessment application.

One attendee told me that of the 12 years he’s gone to the conference he’s never seen such a selection for emergency management software solutions with mobile damage assessment capabilities. This is very good for the emergency manager.

What was missing in the article and at the conference was a quick guide for the mobile devices themselves.  Based on our field experience, here are some additional considerations when selecting a device for mobile damage assessment: Continue Reading