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Value of Enterprise Data Management in Emergency Management

Value of Enterprise Data Management in Emergency Management

Many points of alignment exist between the functions of enterprise data management and the discipline of emergency management and disaster planning and recovery.

An enterprise data management program is designed to emphasize the importance of managing information as an asset and protecting it from misuse or loss.  Most enterprises and organizations carefully manage other assets (financial, physical, and human) but overlook the value inherent in their data.  Typically, if an organization is cognizant of the data it captures, stores, and uses, it is focused on physically protecting the data through user access policies, controls on hardware and in software, etc. – important aspects of data security.  However, organizations frequently forget the need to understand what data exists in an organization, how it is used, the purpose of the various data stores, and the roles that require data for operations and decision-making.  In an emergency management planning effort, or when an actual disaster strikes, knowing the landscape of data and how it is managed is critical to enabling the organization’s recovery and sustainability.

Developing a comprehensive program for managing data, based on the commonly accepted functions of enterprise data management, will provide any organization, regardless of size or industry, with a central focus for identifying and controlling the collection, storage, management, and disposition of its data before, during, and after an emergency.

What is Enterprise Data Management

Enterprise Data Management (EDM) is the global function that facilitates the management of data as an asset of an enterprise / organization.  Enterprise Data Management (EDM) includes:

  • Data Governance – planning, oversight, and control over management of data and the use of data and data-related resources; development and implementation of policies and decision rights over the use of data.  This function includes data stewardship, which is the implementation of the policies and standards promoted by data governance.
  • Data Architecture – the overall structure of data and data-related resources as an integral part of the enterprise architecture
  • Data Operations – structured physical data assets’ storage, deployment, and management
  • Data Security – ensuring privacy, confidentiality, and appropriate access to data, and ensuring prohibition of inappropriate access or misuse of data and information
  • Data Integration & Development – acquisition, extraction, transformation, movement, delivery, replication, federation, virtualization, and operational support
  • Document & Content Management – storing, protecting, indexing, and enabling access to data found in unstructured sources (electronic files and physical records), and making this data available for integration and interoperability.
  • Reference & Master Data – Managing shared data to reduce redundancy and ensure better data quality through standardized definition and use of data that supports activities across the organization.
  • Data Warehousing & Business Intelligence – managing analytical data processing and enabling access to decision support data for reporting and analysis
  • Metadata Management – collecting, categorizing, maintaining, integrating, controlling, managing, and delivering the context of data (definitions, calculations, descriptions, sources, etc.)
  • Data Quality – defining, monitoring, maintaining data integrity, and improving accuracy, completeness, validity, timeliness, consistency of data

Recognizing that most, if not all, organizations did not plan their IT environments holistically, the fact that redundancy and omissions in data, process, and technology exist throughout every company is not surprising.  It is also not a surprise that most organizations do not include data management in their disaster recovery or emergency planning efforts, or only focus on the restoration of the tangible hardware, network, and software assets.

The role of Enterprise Data Management and the management of information from an enterprise perspective are essential to any successful organization.  EDM optimizes the use of the corporate information assets for both the business user and the IT community enabling the collection and access to content (data) and context (metadata) to support the use of those information assets.

EDM practices can play a vital role in any disaster recovery (DR) evaluation or emergency management (EM) efforts.  Essential parts of EDM such as metadata management, data governance and stewardship, enterprise data management and master data management can support more comprehensive planning for emergencies, and having a robust EDM practice can enable organizations to recover more quickly from a disaster since their data is managed with continuity, organizational consistency, and protection as focal points.

In an emergency management planning effort, or when an actual disaster strikes, knowing the landscape of data and how to manage it is critical to the organization’s recovery and sustainability. For example, the lack of coordinated data about functioning shelters delayed hindered residents’ ability to receive essential services after Hurricane Sandy (2010).  Another example was the inability of organizational executives to access critical operational and analytical data to support re-starting business smoothly after September 11, 2001.  Those organizations that had robust enterprise data management programs that were coordinated with their emergency management and disaster recovery plans were able to recover and resume full operations more quickly.

The involvement of disaster recovery and emergency management specialists is essential in the assessment of the value of the information resources since many organizations’ most vital asset after their people is its data.  Data management professionals can provide training in the basics of EDM its foundational components (data governance, metadata management) for DR and EM professionals.  Understanding the purpose and value of enterprise data management can help disaster recovery and emergency management staff work with data management professionals to assess the requirements for using data to support recovery efforts.   As an essential function in EDM, data governance programs can become a fulcrum around which DR and EM planning and recovery initiatives programs revolve, providing the organization with secure, accurate, and timely access to data to help restore operational capabilities.

Data and information security is another essential component of an EDM program and the need to involve emergency management and disaster recovery planning in the design and implementation of data security policies and processes cannot be overstated.

Training and continuing education in all aspects of enterprise data management should become part of every organization, and the increasing focus on data literacy for all professionals points to the need for professional development in the skills and competencies of managing data as an organizational asset.

Data and information security is another essential component of an EDM program. The need to involve emergency management and disaster recovery planning in designing and implementing data security policies and processes is paramount.

Action Items to Improve Data Management

Some action items for emergency management professionals could include

  • Discover what data management programs / efforts exist at the organization, become familiar with its approach to data management and how these functions can support emergency management and disaster planning.
  • Educate data management professionals in the organization about the essential aspects of emergency management and discover alignments with data management functions such as data governance policies, data architecture and operations, data security, etc.
  • Collaborate with data management professionals about how to include planning and recovery activities for computer hardware, networks, and software, and develop plans for effective data (and metadata) recovery and access for all emergency planning and disaster recovery scenarios.


In the final analysis, developing emergency management and disaster recovery efforts that include enterprise data management functions will enable an organization to organize and protect the organization’s data – an often overlooked, but vital, asset. 


Anne Marie Smith, Ph.D.

Anne Marie Smith, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of enterprise data management, data governance, data strategy, enterprise data architecture and data warehousing. Dr. Smith is a consultant and educator with over 30 years' experience. Author of numerous articles and Fellow of the Insurance Data Management Association (FIDM), and a Fellow of the Institute for Information Management (IIM), Dr. Smith is also a well-known speaker in her areas of expertise at conferences and symposia.

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