Related product Collections Management

Disaster Planning 101: Technology Apps and Online Resources for Disaster Preparedness and Response

Patti Gibbons, SCRC Head of Collection Management, University of Chicago

Disasters and collection emergencies happen, and apps and other electronic technology tools can be effective and time saving assets to incorporate into your emergency response kit. Here are some tech options and online resources to consider adopting to help preserve your library’s collections.

Preparedness Tools

These tools help you assess and identify risks, mitigate threats, and prepare for effective responses during emergencies. 

Risk Evaluation and Planning Program (REPP)
Heritage Preservation developed an extensive risk assessment and collection prioritization questionnaire to help institutions identify threats to collections and critical areas needing disaster mitigation planning. 

dPlan/Arts Ready
This comprehensive online tool is designed for cultural heritage organizations of any size and collecting scope. It walks users through the process of creating a collections-based disaster preparedness and response plan. Both free and paid options are available. 

Hazards in Collections eTool
The Museum of London created an online survey tool to help cultural heritage staff identify potential hazards in their collections and develop mitigation strategies to minimize threats. 

Pocket Response Plan
The Council of State Archivists’ Pocket Response Plan™ (PreP™) templates to centralize and streamline emergency contact information. 

Radio frequency identification tags can be helpful for general circulation and inventory control. During an emergency, these tags may prove especially efficient in tracking item locations. With higher value materials, it may be worth investing in RFID technology for select collection items. 

ARCSchat podcast
The Association of Registrars and Collection Specialists recorded a Zoom meeting covering tabletop disaster response exercise. 

This company’s disaster response emergency recovery services are designed for all businesses and offers fee-based tabletop exercise drills for emergencies such as responding to inclement weather, active shooters, and cyber security. 

Regional Environmental Tracking Tools

These tools help you monitor dangers and threats to your building. 

American Red Cross Emergency app
This app provides weather related alerts and the American Red Cross also offers an app with first aid information.

FEMA app
The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers mobile apps that provide weather tracking alerts and real time information during regional disasters.  

U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) interactive water watch
This site provides update information about droughts, floods, streamflow, and water run off that could help you understand regional fire and flood risks.

PegelAlarm: Flood & Rain Alert app
This app monitors water levels and weather forecasts to send advance warnings of flooding threats. 

This app tracks and maps active wildfires. 

Salvage Tools

These tools were developed to assist staff responding to emergencies in their libraries. 

Emergency Response and Salvage app 
The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) created this collections-based disaster response app based on the heritage preservation’s trusted Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel.

Condition Report apps
During disaster salvage phases, it is critical to document damage with notes and photography. These apps streamline and update the standard handwritten condition report procedures with mobile notation apps. 
Horus Condition Report
Art Report
Property Condition Report

Response to Chemical Incidences 

These resources are helpful resources when responding to chemical hazards that may be threats at some libraries. 

ERG2020 app
The US Department of Transportation created this app version of its Emergency Response Guidebook that provides responders with information about hazardous materials.  

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards app
This app allows responders to access a central database of workplace chemicals. 

Locating Responders and Conservators 

Below are resources if you need to enlist the expertise of professionals trained in general disaster response and item-level conservation mitigation.

BELFOR mobile app
The Belfor Property Restoration Company is a global firm that specializes in disaster response for water, fire, mold, and natural disaster occurrences and offer a mobile app to locate service centers and get tips on disaster mitigation techniques. 

The American Institute for Conservation’s Find a Conservator webpage
The search feature on this webpage allows one to search the AIC’s database to find professionals in their organization who can conserve materials damaged in a disaster and professionals with experience advising on disaster preparedness and response training. 

Tools in Your Pocket

Smart phones are compact tools that help you access inventories, responder contacts, and have built in tools to help you work through emergency response situations. General apps and features you likely already have access to include:
Telephone contact lists
Flashlight app
Notation apps
Voice recorders
Cloud access to collection inventories, databases, documents, and facility maps

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