HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The damage assessment phase is the storm after a storm, when a flood of information needs to be collected and processed.
Now there's a speedier way to count the cost of catastrophes.
Engineering and research firm Oceanit created something called MERCI, short for Mobile Emergency Response and Command Interface.
"The key to MERCI is to really simplify and expedite the damage assessment process," project manager Andrew Mizon said.
First responders are outfitted with iPhones loaded with the MERCI application. Instead of pen and paper, the assessors gather images and fill out FEMA forms directly on their touch screens.
"The forms can be completed electronically. The photos can be taken. Videos can also be taken with the phone. And then all the information is grouped together and transmitted back to the central command center," Mizon said.
As assessors move from place to place and upload information, data is converted onto maps and charts, along with a running total of the dollar damage.
State Civil Defense could have used it after the March tsunami when field workers were spread across the state.
That particular effort took us a two-week period from March 11 to March 25. If a system like that were in our hands, we probably could have cut the time down in half," State Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeira said.
"If they can bring that down by one more day then the remediation effort begins one day earlier." Mizon said.
After recent heavy rains, civil defense field tested MERCI.
"It is perhaps the best system we've seen," Teixeira said.
Oceanit is working with first responders to make it even better and faster.