Building Information Platform Against Disaster (BIPAD) has the potential to create systemic shift on disaster governance in Nepal conforming to the global principles of Sendai Framework of Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) is leading this momentum for the adoption of BIPAD at local and provincial level, however, there are several challenges in fully institutionalizing BIPAD. One eminent challenge for such digital technology interventions is - failing to acquire the commitments of its potential users, as they become data centric, technologically cumbersome and unable to meet the requirements of the users. Also, institutionalization of BIPAD demands that the system adapt fully to the decentralized DRRM governance. On this backdrop, it looks prudent for BIPAD to retain its focus on users, user personas and perspectives at all three layers of government while preparing to roll out at provincial and local levels.
The focus in on the key question- How BIPAD can be used for informed decision making at federal, provincial and local level? This key question raises follow up questions such as-Who makes the decisions and what decisions are supported by BIPAD?
This report takes stock of how decision making is contingent upon the persona of the users. Personas are concrete representations of different types of people that the system or service is being designed for. As any new system is likely to be used by different types of people, it is important to understand decision making through several personas that have very different goals and aspirations and differ in all the ways they make decisions through the portal. To understand the use of BIPAD for decision making for several aspects of DRRM, it is also important to breakdown BIPAD into use cases. Nine use cases representing different personas, different goals and different spheres of governance has been used as examples to comprehend the varying context of decision making through the existing data sets in BIPAD portal.
Findings: Who uses BIPAD for decision making?
BIPAD caters to wide range of stakeholders at all three spheres from politicians, academicians, researchers, civil society, and civil servants to professionals at NGO/INGO. Primary users are DRRM related stakeholders, however BIPAD supports decision making in other sectors - development and private sectors.
In essence, BIPAD has to cater to broad sets of users - “Disaster Managers” and “Planners”. “Disaster Managers” are the ones who have to make choices/decisions fast during the onset of hazards, early warning, response and early recovery. Their requirements are fast information but can compromise on precision/details. On the other hand, “Planners” are those who are involved in long-term recovery, preparedness, risk reduction and risk-informed development. Their requirement is detail and reliable information but doesn’t have to be quick.
Prospective stakeholders of BIPAD tend to have broad set of knowledge of technology ranging from novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient and expert. Similarly, there are users with novice to expert level DRRM knowledge. Novice and advanced beginners might fall victim to non-rational decision making as they rely on heuristic techniques and their requirement is shortcut information. Competent to expert users seek for reliability of data and analyze data for rational decision-making. Their need is detail and reliable data. As both categories of users are important for BIPAD, especially when embedding the system at local level; it looks important to focus on data quality but also, on shortcut decision making information.
BIPAD national portal with independent platforms for provincial and local level resonates with the Constitution of Nepal’s sole authority for DRRM to local level and concurrent authority to all spheres. BIPAD supports 753 local governments and their staffs for decision making for almost all 12 clauses under DRRM as per Local Government Operationalization Act, 2017. BIPAD supports decision making towards fulfillment of responsibilities by all three spheres for all cycle of DRRM as per Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, 2017
Findings: What decisions are supported through the portal?
BIPAD supports decision making in all aspects of disaster cycle. Incident module is mostly relevant for emergency response, recovery, rehabilitation, hazard impact analysis, and damage and loss estimation. Damage and loss data is useful for recovery, rehabilitation and relevant for comprehending history. Damage and loss module supports decision making for some aspects of Post Disaster Need Analysis (PDNA) but also for future planning. Real Time module is mostly relevant for early warning and early response. Risk Info module is relevant for risk reduction and risk informed development. Profile module and Project Management Information System (PMIS) are relevant for Risk informed development and DRRM governance.
BIPAD supports multi sectorial decision making in development sector and also, for private sector. BIPAD is rightly placed as governance tool for intergovernmental data sharing, budget allocation and for monitoring progress against DRRM commitments at all three spheres, such as Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction National Strategic Plan of Action (2018-2030), and international commitments such as Sendai framework
Though it is envisioned as one stop solution for disaster related quantitative data but it is not to be understood as panacea for all DRRM data problems.
Recommendations: How to enhance the system to support decision making?
The modules on Incident, Dashboard, Real Time and citizen reporting need focus on quick relay of information to drive “Response Decisions” whereas damage and loss, Risk Info and Profile modules need focus on data standards, accuracy, details, metadata, and references to drive “Planning Decisions”.
User Testing including key DRRM actors at local and provincial level would be important before rolling out the system. Similarly, it will be helpful to conduct training and capacity building focusing not just on using BIPAD but also, for decision making through BIPAD, for risk communication or for data contributing. Data standardization across all modules is necessary.
Mechanism of standard protocol on data relay (especially, for incidents, citizen reporting, situation report) will enhance decision making. Also, robust regulatory mechanism will be needed to ensure data is contributed to PMIS and Capacity and Resources by all relevant stakeholders.
Recommendations for modules:
Incident Module: Standardizing the attributes and list of response resources (based on response needs) is one way to further enhance response decisions.
Real Time: Real time stations/ warnings to be linked with capacity and resources for response. This allows decision making for response not just for post-incident but also for early action based on early warnings from Real Time page. This can be embedded by treating early warnings as incidents for response.
Profile: Summarized information on hazard and risks, risk ranking to support decision making for novice to advance beginners in technology and DRRM.
Risk Info: Integrating building footprints in exposure section will aid decision making in identifying the exposed population.
Given its scope and complexity, this report raises important opportunities for further work, particularly for wide range of user testing at provincial and local level.
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