Overview of DCDS

The goal of the DCDS is to provide a freely licensed, software independent format for exchanging basic profile data of pre and post-disaster clients. The timely sharing of standardized disaster client information will result in enhanced case management and delivery of services. The DCDS only describes client data. Disaster resource information is standardized within the National Response Framework, the National Information Exchange Model, and the OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee. The recognition and inclusion through reference of these Standards allows the industry experts in each field to develop the appropriate standard while allowing the entire community to benefit from their potentially life saving work.

The Disaster Client Data Standard is intended to be minimal in scope, including only client data elements common to organizations involved in disaster relief including the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Disaster Response, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and other agencies that are a part of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. These elements are also common to the provision of services under the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care and Homeless Management Information Systems. Many federally funded projects including Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Veterans Affairs use similar data elements to describe the local populations served through the hundreds of projects they fund. The elements were, where possible, specifically synchronized with HUD's HMIS Data and Technical Standards and the AIRS standard in an attempt to make this Standard relevant and useful to all the agencies participating in a response- including those that serve the homeless, the mentally ill, those suffering from mental illness, the elderly and other special needs populations within the United States.
These client data elements describe personal identifiers, demographics, household membership, agency services and referrals received, identified needs, case managers, and client releases of information. The parameters around this Standard have not yet been developed. The use and disclosure, retention, destruction of data as well other important contextual questions must be answered by the stakeholders implementing the Standard. While future development could include recommendations for these and other issues, the focus at this stage of development was to define a common way to describe the individuals and families impacted by disaster.
For operational sharing of homeless services information, the HUD Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data standard should be used. Wherever possible, the DCDS uses data structures consistent with those found in the HUD HMIS XML Schema, so it should be fairly straightforward for homeless services agencies and Continua of Cares to prepare to communicate with disaster relief agencies.
The DCDS schema comprises a template for valid DCDS XML instance documents, which contain the actual client data. The section entitled "Detailed XML Instance Documentation" describes these elements.