The Power of GIS Technology During Natural Disasters

We’ve all seen, heard about, and even felt the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria. Millions of people have lost their homes, don’t have access to electricity and water, and are in desperate need of relief efforts and emergency aid. For businesses, these natural disasters have impacted supply chain processes, transportation of goods, and the ability to restock products swiftly to keep up with demand.

Despite these challenges though, GIS technology is making it easier for companies to prepare for impending storms. For example, Home Depot’s supply chain and merchandising teams worked around-the-clock to restock stores and transport goods in preparation of Hurricane Irma. GIS technology allowed brands like Home Depot to monitor stores, ramp up and activate the best distribution centers, and determine the best routes to get supplies in and out.

But what about when a storm eventually ends and communities are left in chaos? In the aftermath of a hurricane, supply chain productivity and profitability can be significantly impacted and it’s even more challenging to plan transportation routes and deliver products to consumers. GIS technology not only helps in preparation of a storm, but also afterwards when corporations need to get back on their feet.

If you’re struggling to get your supply chain running smoothly again after any of the hurricanes, here’s how GIS helps with natural disasters:

Risk Mitigation

Now that stores are opening back up again, you need to ensure your supplies are getting to where they need to be in a timely fashion. But what if your usual distribution routes are compromised from the storm? You don’t want to risk sending your drivers out on their usual routes, only to find out later they need to be rerouted and will be behind in their shipments.

GIS mapping gives you the opportunity to review all your distribution routes and see which ones have been affected by the natural disaster. You can then use your maps to determine what new routes are available that can get your products where they need to go as quickly as possible. GIS software helps you make these decisions quickly and efficiently, so you can share the plan with your distribution teams and get your customers what they need on time.

Monitor Deliveries and Shipments in Real Time

Once you’ve made decisions on your distribution routes and shared with your drivers, you can use GIS technology to track your shipments in real time. If any disruptions occur along the way, you can use GIS mapping to immediately spot the problem and find other routing options that will get your products delivered as close to on time as possible. This technology also helps you confirm that shipments are being delivered as they should be, giving you peace of mind that your route planning is working properly.

Save on Costs

You’re always looking for efficiencies to cut down on costs in your supply chain. But that’s difficult to do when a natural disaster like a hurricane strikes. In fact, the destruction caused by storms like Hurricane Irma, Jose, and Maria can hurt your company’s profitability when there are major setbacks to your wholesaler, distribution, and delivery routes. GIS technology may not be able to completely solve the problem of profitability when disaster strikes, but you can use real-time maps and data visualizations to find distributor and routing efficiencies that can help you cut down on costs.

How does your supply chain manage natural disasters? Do you have a plan in place for the next time a storm hits your network areas? Find out how Mapline’s GIS mapping software can help you prepare and avoid major supply chain setbacks.