Introduction to the Disaster Client Data Standard

After Hurricane Katrina, the many disaster response partners involved learned how critical it is support effective and flexible technology. No disaster is the same, both the response and the technology must adjust to changing requirements. The requirement for rapid scaling and adaptation of technology necessitate adherence to data exchange standards. Data exchange standards, and the DCDS specifically, must be an elemental component of any disaster response effort to permit the collaboration of the hundreds of partners that participate in even small scale disasters. DCDS begins to enable coordinated interagency care, the use of multiple software systems within a single response, and greater resource leveraging.

In disaster preparation and response, client data may need to be rapidly exchanged. Prior to the existence of the DCDS, there was no common format for sending basic client, demographic, need, and service delivery information between information systems involved in disaster preparation or response. Agencies, victims, responders and policy makers all struggled to accurately comprehend the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the individuals and families of the Gulf Coast. Without an accurate understanding of the impact- assessing needs, assembling resources, and assisting the victims- the response alternated between overabundance and insufficiency, depending on the moment.