In the face of devastating natural disasters, emergency management agencies must make swift decisions that result in short and long-term economic consequences. Dun & Bradstreet’s economic impact assessments enable leaders to make better-informed decisions throughout all four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
The nation’s federal and state emergency management agencies are responsible for developing plans and coordinating resources to improve resiliency in the face of all hazards, including natural disasters.
In late August and early September, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma made landfall in Texas and Florida, respectively. This was the first time two Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the continental United States in the same hurricane season. Less than two weeks later, Category 5 Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico – instantly leaving millions of people without power and running water.
When these record-breaking hurricanes made landfall in the United States, emergency management agencies quickly mobilized response actions to save and sustain lives, and meet basic human needs. As the weather normalized, agencies began recovery efforts to rebuild and revitalize affected communities.
Confronted with a monumental recovery effort that will continue for the foreseeable future, agency leaders recognize a gap in their understanding of short and long-term economic implications of recovery activities. Without reliable data and analysis, leaders are unable to make well-informed decisions to prioritize the allocation of limited resources and ensure the best possible economic outcomes.
While agency leadership has access to large amounts of data, it is the insights that can be derived from the information that matter far more than the sheer volume of data. In collaboration with the National Emergency Management Association’s (NEMA) Private Sector Information Task Force, Dun & Bradstreet’s advanced analytics team developed business risk and economic impact assessments that have been utilized by state, local, and federal agencies to inform response and recovery efforts for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
The assessments provide agency leaders with highly informative analyses of economic and business factors that support the prioritization of recovery activities based on local economic needs. Dun & Bradstreet’s predictive indicators such as the Viability Rating and Financial Stress Score provide a portfolio view of business vulnerability in affected areas to understand pre-event risk of going out of business and likelihood of requiring financial assistance to return to normal business operations. Additionally, a review of job concentration by business type, location, and revenue supports interagency efforts to minimize job loss or complete business failure – with millions of jobs affected, this information can be used to prioritize support for businesses identified as lynchpins in the regional economy.
Disasters can result in spillover effects that are observed throughout the nation, Dun & Bradstreet’s industry-specific data analysis directly supports efforts to minimize the severity of economic impacts. Assessing each region’s most economically significant industries, recovery funds and resources can be deployed in amounts that are proportionate to projected impact. Such information was of particularly high value as Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas, impacted a large number of gasoline resellers from the southeast to northeast United States – presenting economic ramifications in the form of fuel supply delays and limitations, and price increases.
By leveraging the Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number and the world’s largest commercial database, analysts could identify small businesses and derive corporate family tree data revealing business relationships that cross domestic and international borders. Given that small businesses have the highest risk of post-disaster failure, this information enables effective allocation of relief funds, such as those available from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
RESULTS AND ROI
Major natural disasters result in costly, long-term recovery efforts that require prioritization of resources. With Texas and Florida accounting for almost 14% (over $2.5 trillion) of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), and Puerto Rico already experiencing an economic crisis, the implications of uninformed decision-making are too severe to ignore. Dun & Bradstreet’s economic impact assessments fill a knowledge gap that enables first responders and emergency management agencies to make smart resource allocation decisions, directing people and funds to the localities, businesses, and industries that need to be bolstered to achieve the quickest, most sustainable bounce back possible.
Beyond recovery activities, Dun & Bradstreet’s economic and business data analysis results in better-informed execution across all four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Prepared with reliable baseline information, localities are able to build more resilient communities, make data-driven policy decisions, and address economic vulnerabilities before a disaster strikes.