Great blog post from the Health Affairs Blog! “Big Data and the Public’s Health: Building Resilience for the 21st Century” by Charlotte Parent

Please check out this great blog post from the Health Affairs Blog on how the New Orleans Health Department dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac by incorporating big data methods to locate the city’s most vulnerable citizens. A blurb with a link to the blog post is included below.

Health Affairs Blog has posted a new item, ‘Big Data And The Public’s Health: Building Resilience For The 21st Century’ by Charlotte Parent

Editor’s note: For more on big data, check out the July issue of Health Affairs.

In late August 2012, Hurricane Isaac was bearing down on New Orleans. Staff at the City’s Health Department were busy fielding calls from concerned citizens and reaching out to individuals on the City’s Special Needs Registry, a list of residents who have medical or mobility needs and who require extra assistance during an emergency. These individuals are at the highest health risk and are the first to face adverse health consequences during an emergency.

When Isaac made landfall as a slow-moving storm, it dumped approximately 20 inches of rain onto the streets of New Orleans, causing major power outages that lasted for eight days. Immediately following the storm, shelters were opened and many services were available; however, without power to use TV, radios, internet, or cell phones it was difficult for City officials to communicate this information to the public.

The Health Department went door to door to find at-risk residents, but we had no organized method of locating them or answering countless other urgent questions: Who needs power to run their medical equipment? Who needs transportation to dialysis? Who is trapped in a wheelchair on the fifth floor of a building where the elevators are not working?

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