Location Intelligence for Post-Disaster Economic Recovery Planning

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Natural disasters have major impacts on local economies. According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, natural disasters affect 218 million people a year. With the unpredictability of natural disasters, it is critical for municipalities and their partners to quickly get the data they need to implement actionable plans following a disaster. The best post-disaster economic recovery plan ensures a swift recovery for a community’s residents and local economy.

By analyzing location intelligence, municipalities and economic development organizations (EDOs) can create post-disaster economic plans based on consumer insights.

Determine High Impact Zones

Municipalities often rely on reports, known as post-disaster economic impact studies, from outside organizations to determine the highest impacted areas after a natural disaster. These reports often include job losses, impact to infrastructure, and business closures or interruptions.

While these studies are helpful in identifying high impact zones, they can only provide so much information. By enriching other datasets with location intelligence, municipalities can understand changes in human mobility patterns before, during, and after a natural disaster occurs, and they can use this information to determine how a natural disaster has impacted a community.

With foot traffic data, municipalities can analyze human mobility patterns and understand where infrastructure has been impacted the most. For instance, if there isn’t as much foot traffic in a particular area after a natural disaster, then this could be an indication of affected infrastructure.

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Help Local Businesses Rebuild

One of the biggest challenges caused by a natural disaster is its impact on local businesses. Once rebuilding is complete and insurance claims are paid out, the aid typically ends there. But, what if municipalities could do more for affected businesses?

By using location intelligence, municipalities can help businesses determine where they should relocate. Foot traffic data patterns can be used to discover areas with high consumer activity, which may be the best fit for relocation.

Municipalities and EDOs can work with businesses to determine where the highest concentration of potential customers are. For example, a pet store that needs to relocate would likely succeed in an area with a high concentration of consumers who frequently visit pet stores, pet-services businesses, and local pet events. The local municipality and EDO could assist the business with determining where the highest concentration of potential customers is likely to be, ensuring that the business’s new site will be in an ideal location.

Identify Opportunities for Job Creation

In the wake of a natural disaster, it’s important to create an effective economic development strategy. According to EPA’s Framework for Creating a Smart Growth Economic Development Strategy: A Tool for Small Cities and Towns, the three core components of a smart growth economic development strategy are supporting businesses, supporting workers, and supporting quality of life.

Location intelligence can help enhance a growth economic development strategy. For example, if a manufacturing plant was destroyed by a wildfire, insights from location intelligence could help organizations like EDOs work with the company to determine the best area for rebuilding that plant. By determining where people most frequently go, how far they travel, etc.), municipalities can get the insights they need to determine whether or not the new plant will be in an ideal area for potential job seekers.

Creating a Recovery Action Plan with Location Intelligence

Insights from location intelligence can help municipalities, EDOs, and their disaster response  partners create the best possible post-disaster economic recovery plans to help communities quickly rebound and thrive once again.


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