Estrategia Internacional para la Reducción de Desastres
América Latina y el Caribe  

Revista EIRD Informa - América Latina y el Caribe
Número:13 -2006 -12/2006 - 11-/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001 - 2/2000 - 1/2000



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?

It is a process through which printed documents are converted to electronic format, so that users are able to access them easily by using their computers.
Digitalization is a feasible means for allowing thousands of people to have immediate access to information through the use of Internet and other electronic tools such as CD-ROM.

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.

• The time required to respond to requests, as well as shipping costs are reduced significantly, given that the number of photocopies also decreases, as well as postage and packaging.

• 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.

For further information about this process of digitalization, please contact:
The Regional Disaster Information Center
P.O. Box 3745-1000 San José, Costa Rica