Internacional para la Reducción de Desastres
América Latina y el Caribe
Revista EIRD Informa - América Latina y el Caribe
Digitalization and Access to Information about Disasters
The Regional Disaster Information Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (CRID) has begun to digitalize its bibliographic collection, made up of more than 14,500 specialized documents on disasters and related areas.
This process is being developed
as part of the activities of the Project “Central
American Information Network on Health and Disasters”, funded by
the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in Washington, with the support
of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) and the Pan-American
Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
What is digitalization?
is a process through which printed documents are converted to electronic
format, so that users are able to access them easily by using their
Even though many people in Latin America and the Caribbean do not have
computers or Internet accounts, it must be taken into consideration that
most local bodies and non-governmental organizations do have access to
this service and, hence, can help to disseminate updated information
and knowledge on disasters and related issues.
Process of digitalization at CRID
To date, digitalization at CRID has been carried out through a process similar to the one shown in the following chart: Achievements and benefits obtained to date:
• The implementation of this process has enabled CRID to disseminate information among a larger number of users in an orderly manner. Therefore, information is ready to be used.
• Digitalization of
documents has also allowed CRID to offer a decentralized service, given
that information is sent to users in a timely
manner through Internet and other electronic means.
• As a result of this experience, CRID has been able to transfer its knowledge and practices on digitalization, not only to centers currently participating in the NLM’s project, but also to other institutions interested in this initiative at the regional level.
• The process of digitalization guarantees both durability and preservation of documents over time.
• It allows CRID to prepare products with added value.
• After analyzing the information needs of both its users and institutions in this region, CRID has prepared a set of CDs with data on specific issues. This collection has an average of 100 full-text documents on issues such as El Niño phenomenon, Early Warning and Human Settlements. Each CD allows users to retrieve information by sub-themes or through the use of its own search engine, which is userfriendly.
Moreover, users are able to look up a section of contacts and websites, which includes a list of personal and institutional contacts related to that particular issue.
• Currently, CRID has
both the technological ability and the human resources needed to prepare
specific information products, according
to the needs and requirements of its users. To date, CRID has digitalized
2,700 documents, and the number is increasing on a regular basis. These
documents are disseminated among centers that are currently participating
in the aforementioned project, as well as among other interested institutions.