When Disaster Strikes, Oceanit’s MERCI Responds
Natural disasters are often looked upon as a “wake up call,” presenting an opportunity to reverse or mitigate the immediate aftermath of these events in the future. The ability to recognize the scope and severity of an emergency accurately and quickly, and allocate or acquire limited resources is essential for the safety and health of the citizens impacted.
Many states are still conducting damage assessments using pen and paper, requiring the transcription of information manually to a database or manual compilation into a briefing. State civil defense and emergency services offices need easy-to-use, secure, and reliable data gathering tools that are integrated with backend analytical and reporting systems. A flexible system is also needed that can be easily adopted by non-governmental organizations to facilitate their assistance during an emergency.
MERCI (Mobile Emergency Response and Command Interface) is an Oceanit-developed system to facilitate faster, accurate, and detailed damage assessments following a natural disaster. The system allows responders to collect multiple data types (text, photo, and video) and securely upload the information to MERCI’s online Command Center where data can be analyzed in real-time. This information is then evaluated to determine response by community, state, and federal organizations and agencies.
As featured on a recent episode of Discovery Channel’s Innovation, MERCI was used by the Hawaii State Civil Defense after Tropical Storm Iselle to help track storm damage and send resources where needed. The use of the app allowed responders to streamline the process of damage assessment, data collection, and cost tabulation.
While MERCI is mostly used by government agencies and businesses, a free version called myMERCI is available via iTunes with an Android app in the works. Users of myMERCI can record the value of their assets before a disaster strikes, which makes it easier to file accurate insurance claims. Information collected in the app is private, but users have the ability to share specific details, such as road closures, with neighbors and relief workers.