The Use of Geographic Information Systems in Disaster Research

March 1997 (VOL. 15, NO. 1)

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In the last ten years, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have slowly crept their way into the everyday methodological discourse in areas such as geography, urban planning, and emergency management. However, GIS has yet to be integrated into social science research on disaster. This paper uses examples of GIS use in emergency management to help inform the future direction of GIS use in disaster research. While computers and software and, for the matter, data are vital to the development of an effective system, more important are researchers who can generate theory-based uses for the technology that offer new understandings of disaster phenomena. Only through research teams that include both researchers (idea generators) and technicians (idea “implementers”) can GIS be effectively used in disaster research.