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  1. City governments incorporate ICTs into government services to improve citizen participation and access to those services. Too much dependence on technology, however, can lead to concerns about creating a digital divide between different groups of citizens. The potential for digital inequality is a critical issue that can be exacerbated by insufficient attention being paid to vulnerabilities across communities. Given that socio-economically vulnerable populations are the ones who need government services the most, especially during disaster events, it is critical to investigate the extent to which digital inequality is an issue for technology-based government services. With this in mind, this paper analyzes the use of different technology-enabled access options for a representative eGovernment service system, the New York City 311 service system, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two sets of socio-economically distinct locations in New York City are compared, using average income as a proxy for vulnerability, to draw conclusions about potential inequalities in such a system during a crisis. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 3, 2024
  2. null (Ed.)
    Orange County, Florida is intimately familiar with impacts of natural disasters because of the yearly threat of hurricanes in the southeastern United States. One of the tools that has aided them in their efforts to monitor and manage such disasters is their 311 non-emergency call system, through which local residents can issue requests to the municipality for disaster-related information or other services. This paper provides a preliminary examination of the potential for the Orange County 311 system to provide actionable information to them in support of their efforts to manage a different type of disaster: the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential of the system to support the County in this context is illustrated through several preliminary analyses of the complete set of service requests that were registered in the first ten months of 2020. 
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  3. Pre-positioning of supplies is important to facilitate disaster relief operations, however it is only after a disaster event occurs that the effectiveness of the pre-positioning strategy can be properly assessed. With this in mind, this paper analyzes a risk-based pre-positioning algorithm, developed for the American Red Cross, in the context of its actual performance in the 2013 Colorado Front Range floods. The paper assesses the relative effectiveness of the pre-positioning approach with respect to historical asset placements, and it discusses changes to the model that are necessary to support such comparisons and allow for further model extensions. 
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  4. During emergencies, it is often necessary to evacuate vulnerable people to safer places to reduce loss of lives and cope with human suffering. Shelters are publically available places to evacuate, especially for people who do not have any other choices. This paper overviews emergency shelter planning in disaster mitigation and preparation and discusses the need for better responding to people who need to evacuate during emergencies. Recent evacuation studies pay attention to integrating social factors into evacuation modeling for better prediction of evacuation decisions. Our goal is to address the impact of social behavior on the sheltering choices of evacuees and to explore the potential contributions of including social network characteristics in the decision-making process of authorities. We present the shelter utilization problem in South Carolina during Hurricane Florence and discuss an agent-based modeling approach that considers social community structures in modeling the shelter choice behavior of socially connected individuals 
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  5. Improving disaster operations requires understanding and managing risk. This paper proposes a new data-driven approach for measuring the risk associated with a natural hazard, in support of developing more effective approaches for managing disaster operations. The paper focuses, in particular, on the issue of defining the inherent severity of a hazard event, independent of its impacts on human society, and concentrates on hurricanes as a specific type of natural hazard. After proposing a preliminary severity measure in the context of a hurricane, the paper discusses the issues associated with collecting empirical data to support its implementation. The approach is then illustrated by comparing the relative risk associated with two different locations in the state of North Carolina subject to the impacts of Hurricane Florence in 2018. 
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