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Using Data Analytics as a Viable Way to Facilitate Resilience and Better Recovery

Dun & Bradstreet and its massive database of businesses working with the feds and states.

Recovery of a region after disaster is measured by the return to normalization, and that is reliant, in large part, on the business community re-establishing itself.

It’s not always easy after a disaster, and many small businesses never recover. Dun & Bradstreet is well-quipped to use data and analysis to help cities and states develop resilience as demonstrated with its recent economic analysis after Hurricane Matthew.

The firm was approached by Michael Sprayberry, North Carolina’s director of emergency management, to conduct an economic impact analysis after the hurricane hit the region in 2016.

Dun & Bradstreet looked at economic viability before the storm and afterward — to get data on how the storm impacted jobs, sales, loss of businesses and ultimately the state’s GDP. The analysis looked at an impact area before and after with the goal of deriving at the best ways to spend money before a disaster, and where, to facilitate the best recovery.

“We are able to do the custom modelling using data on where to spend money and provide a better insight on what would drive economic growth and help bring back those communities quicker,” said Bill Pastro, Dun & Bradstreet’s Senior Vice President of North American Government Solutions.

Dun & Bradstreet also worked with FEMA on analyzing economic information following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, providing economic baseline information to help FEMA assess the impacts in certain zones.

The firm looked at communities from Virginia Beach, Va., all the way up the coast to Maryland. It looked at how many small businesses, large businesses and employees lie within those areas and — fast-forward to after the storms — how those businesses and employees fared in relation to data such as wind speed, and water levels to get an idea of the impacts of certain kinds of storms in specific areas.

 “One of the things FEMA is talking quite a bit about is more focus on moving toward a culture of preparedness as opposed to the reactionary response at the time the disaster hits,” Pastro said. “They’re realizing the preparedness piece is critical to get in front of these things and be better prepared to recover in the long run.”

Dun & Bradstreet also did a national-level exercise with FEMA where the firm used its massive database and pulled together about 500,000 small businesses from Texas up to Maine, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and 100 miles inward and invited those businesses to participate in a complimentary training program put on by FEMA.

“We helped FEMA identify who those businesses were and helped get the word out to them to teach business executives different methods of preparing for the hurricane season and developing business continuity plans to identify risk exposure,” Pastro said.

“It’s the power of the data and this new use of data and analytics is coming to bear fruit for both the feds and the state and local folks, so they can use this information to educate communities,” he said. “It’s an innovative way to use data.”