City of New York Office of Emergency Management: Sahana Emergency Management System

Since 2007, the City of New York’s Office of Emergency Management has used Sahana software for managing its all-hazards sheltering plan, which involves over 500 shelters capable of housing over 800,000 persons and staffed by over 60,000 city agency employees and volunteers.

Coastal storms, including “nor’easters”, tropical storms and hurricanes, can and do affect New York City.  In fact, New York’s densely populated and highly developed coastline makes the city among the most vulnerable to hurricane-related damage.  Due to regional geography, hurricanes in New York City – though infrequent – can do far more damage than hurricanes of similar strength in the southern United States.  With sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or greater, along with torrential rains, storm surge is among a hurricane’s most hazardous features.  A major (category 3 or 4 storm) could push more than 30 feet of storm surge into some part of New York City.

As part of the NYC Coastal Storm Plan, a customized version of Sahana software is used to plan for and manage the evacuation facility structure necessary to house the thousands of potential evacuees in the NYC metropolitan area.  Since 2009, a team of developers at the City University of New York’s School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) has worked to customize and optimize Sahana software for the City of New York.  The CIty has now distributed this system – branded as the Sahana Emergency Management System – to other jurisdictions through the Regional Catastrophic Planning Team of NY-NJ-CT-PA.

Sahana software was used by the City to help manage the response to Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

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