GEOG 858
Spatial Data Science for Emergency Management

Reading Assignment


How Reading Assignments Work

Here is a quick recap of how the reading assignments work. For each lesson, I will ask you to read parts of your textbooks, online materials I select, or articles I've found. As you can see below, I'll try to make it as clear as possible what you're expected to do by always identifying specific reading assignments in a separate box.

Part of your class participation grade will be making responses on our discussion board to questions I pose about the readings. Whenever you see a RESPOND prompt, you need to respond to that question as directed. Occasionally, I'll mark items THINK ABOUT when I simply want to direct your thoughts as you read.

You can access most of the readings via the links on this page. Some are also available as files in the Lesson 2 Module of Canvas.

Lesson 2 Reading Assignment 

The readings for this week are selected to continue the introduction to spatial data science for emergency management and to hazards and disasters in particular. These are some fundamental concepts you will very likely refer back to as you engage with the course material and develop your own term project. The first reading is from your GIS for Disaster Management textbook and provides a broad background on disaster management and GIS. It also introduces the important point that there are different levels of responsibility for responding to events, some overlapping some distinct. You should think about the role of government (local, state, and federal), non-government organizations, industry and private sector, and the research and education organizations in each phase of emergency management. It is a complex landscape, and this course often considers the ways these actors intersect.

The second reading is a report/handbook developed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on different hazard and disasters, their complex characteristics and how to address them. You will read just a part of the handbook, but it is likely to be of use as you move through the course and encounter different topics you want to learn more about (It could also provide inspiration for your choice of term project topic!). 


"GIS for Disaster Management" - Chapter 5, "Disaster Management and Geographic Information Systems" (see Library Resources link in Canvas).


In your view and based on the readings, what are the major challenges in GIS and emergency management for the three major areas of government: local, state, and federal? How do the issues at one level affect those at another? What are the barriers to a cohesive, integrated approach to emergency management across the levels? Finish your evaluation with a couple of sentences about what happens when you overlay a pandemic like what we are experiences with COVID-18. Be critical! 


From the 2017 ASEAN report “Specific Hazards: Handbook on Geospatial Decision Support in ASEAN Countries” read the Preface, pages 1 – 13 and then pick one of the chapters on specific hazards (e.g., “Landslide”). The other chapters will be a good reference as you consider other hazards in this class.

Think About

What are some of the general principals, approaches, and technologies applicable across the range of hazards considered in this report? Then, think about how these play out for a specific hazard, particularly with regard to:

  1. the spatial and temporal characteristics of the hazard,
  2. how quickly geospatial information can be assembled to aid in decision support.


The 2021 report "Hitting Home: The Compounding Costs of Climate Inaction" by the Climate Council highlights describes how climate change is influencing the timing, frequency, and severity of different disasters. Play attention to what they say about future trajectories, and think about whether we are heading in the right direction with our approaches to emergency management.  


  1. Post a comment in the Reading Discussion (L2) forum that addresses the conditions mentioned in the RESPOND prompt above. Post your initial comment during the first 5 days of the lesson.
  2. Then, I'd like you to offer additional insights, critiques, a counter-example, or something else constructive in response to your colleagues on three of the following 5 days.
  3. Brownie points for linking to other technology demos, pictures, blog posts, etc., that you've found to enrich your posts.

    ​​​​​​NOTE: Respond to this assignment in the Reading Discussion (L2) forum by the date indicated on the course calendar.

Grading Criteria

This discussion will be graded out of 15 points.

Please see the Discussion Expectations and Grading page under the Orientation and Course Resources module for details.