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New Damage Assessment App To Speed Disaster Recovery
Updated February 10, 2016 7:42 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) has finalized an Apple and Android application that will streamline data gathering and confirmation following a disaster, with the goal of faster reporting for federal assistance for homeowners, renters and businesses.

The current version of the app is for use by local, state and federal inspectors who catalogue damage levels after a weather or other type of incident that may be eligible for federal assistance. The app can be used on smartphones and tablets.

Main advantages are:

  • Compiling information once.
  • Identifying existing properties through building records for a more systematic approach.
  • Downloading initial reports through all steps, including to a database compatible with federal reporting. This avoids inputting data multiple times on multiple systems.
  • Attaching photos to the electronic file.
The new application, which is free for counties to use, allows damage assessments to be completed on-site, and stored on a tablet or phone. The information can be uploaded to a database immediately in areas with wireless accessibility. Information can be archived if assessment sites have no active wireless signals available, and uploaded once Internet connectivity can be accessed. Previously, local, state and federal assessments of disaster damage were gathered using a combination of online, paper forms and on-site brief surveys. Forms started at the local level would require additional, on-site confirmation by state, and later federal, staff. The physical and online forms created additional delays, as information was compiled, re-entered into different systems and verified. The new system will eliminate much of the need for repeat visits, allowing assessors to attach photos illustrating damage. Additionally, the app will allow state assessors to draw an area of concern, allowing the program to flag potentially affected properties and pull information into a database to be used by officials investigating damage reports. Parcel data statewide is also available, providing more detailed damage estimates in a shorter time frame. Training on the disaster application is in process. The application is currently available with full functionality on Android and Apple devices.

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