The California Needs Ascertainment Study is a qualitative research project being conducted by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with participating agencies and organizations in California. The immediate aim of the study is to better understand the impact of wildfire-related emergencies on emergency response agency and healthcare system functions. The long-term goal is to improve access to tools and information that can support real-time decision-making during wildfire-related emergencies and long-term planning in affected areas.

Through 60 minute interviews with response agencies across the state of California, the researchers identify the role they play in responding to emergencies, specifically wildfires, and what their organizations data needs are during such events. In doing so, information about what data is used in emergency response context — and how it is procured, analyzed, and integrated into operations in a timely manner.

In January 2023, the study will continue with the administration of household-based surveys in California. These surveys will help identify information gaps that, if addressed, would mitigate healthcare disruption and food insecurity during wildfire emergencies.

Other Wildfire-Related Research

In tandem with the California Wildfires Needs Ascertainment Study, researchers affiliated with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and CrisisReady are conducting research that maps wildfires, power outages, and medical vulnerabilities across the state of California. In doing so, the research aims to help predict and respond-to the dynamic health system demands in the context of wildfire and PSPS events.

Research In Progress:

ReadyMapper: A Tool to Support Decision-Making During Wildfire Events

The team at CrisisReady, a research response platform based at Harvard University and Direct Relief, created “ReadyMapper” — a digital platform to support response and recovery operations to a wide array of emergency events, including wildfires. ReadyMapper is a health systems resilience decision-support system that presents information needed to optimize resource allocation during disasters from novel, but disparate, data streams.

The tool is the outcome of a three-year collaborative effort between the CrisisReady team and public health and response agencies, hospitals and health systems, and health officials across California. ReadyMapper combines data on community demographics, vulnerabilities, infrastructure, and mobility to track evolving medical needs as populations evacuate and move elsewhere.

Learn more about ReadyMapper below:

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