Real World Effectiveness of Information and Communication Technologies in Disaster Relief: A Systematic Review

  • Bingqing Lu Chinese Evidence-Based Medicine Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China
  • Xingyi Zhang Department of Information Engineering, School of Telecommunications Engineering, Xidian University, Xi’an 710071, China
  • Jin Wen Mail Institute of Hospital Management, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China
Information and communication technologies (ICTs), Natural disaster, Disaster relief


Background: The application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in disaster relief is increasingly widespread, but it is still unclear whether ICT can reduce casualties and economic losses in disaster response phase.

Methods: We searched studies in the databases of Scopus, EI, MEDLINE and EMBASE from Jan 1, 1990, to Mar 22, 2019. Excel 2016 and VOSviewer (version 1.6.11) were used to analyze the extracted data and visualize the network diagram.

Results: We included 169 eligible articles. The number of ICTs-related disaster-relief articles published annually shows an overall trend of growth since 1990. The United States has the greatest influence in this field. The 169 articles reported twenty-four technologies and the top three reported most frequently were remote sensing, social media, and geographic information system (GIS). The main roles of ICTs in natural disaster rescue included information dissemination, post-disaster image collection and damage assessment. However, of the 169 articles, only five reported that ICTs reduced casualties or economic losses in disaster response phase, two concluded that rescue robot was ineffective in mudslide rescue, and the remaining 162 (95.86%) did not evaluate the effect of ICTs on the rescue.

Conclusion: ICTs have the potential to reduce casualties and economic losses, but some technologies are not applicable to all rescue scenarios. In addition, most studies did not pay attention to the effect of technology on the rescue.


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How to Cite
Lu B, Zhang X, Wen J. Real World Effectiveness of Information and Communication Technologies in Disaster Relief: A Systematic Review. Iran J Public Health. 49(10):1813-1826.
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