The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) held a training program on National Retrospective …
Following the publication of the new EM-DAT website at the end of June 2023, the EM-DAT team at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) has just updated the EM-DAT public data portal. The database model and database management system have also been updated, with new technologies that will facilitate future developments of the EM-DAT project.
This new portal is built atop the updated database. Aside from minor changes in appearance, it should not substantially alter the user experience in terms of downloading data. However, a few changes should be noted:
- Users need to activate a button to download historical (pre-2000) data. This modification was introduced to raise awareness about the lesser quality of historical data in EM-DAT.
- The outdated mapping tool has been removed. User satisfaction surveys showed that the tool was used by a marginal number of users. It may be replaced in the future. However, in the meantime, users can explore the EM-DAT data using external tools, such as the viewer provided by Our World in Data (for natural hazards).
- The guidelines and legal content of the portal were migrated to a dedicated documentation website.
- The content and structure of the EM-DAT public data has been modified. The new structure of the EM-DAT public table is described in a specific section of the documentation website.
The major change regarding the EM-DAT data content is the EM-DAT classification system, transitioning from a hierarchical tree of three levels plus to two optional levels into a strict 4-level classification tree. This simplified classification system will enhance the user experience in filtering the EM-DAT data and facilitate custom reclassification based on user needs. The EM-DAT data can also be more easily mapped to other classification systems such as the Hazard Information Profiles (HIPs) released in 2021.
Another change in the data content pertains to the terminology used in EM-DAT to refer to countries and regions. EM-DAT now adheres to the United Nations M49 standard. This may alter the spelling of regions and countries within EM-DAT. To gain an overview of the changes provided by the update, users may refer to the release note on the documentation’s first page.
Undoubtedly, for EM-DAT users, the documentation site is the most prominent change featured in this September 2023 update. The content has been substantially enriched and revised compared to the previous guidelines. The documentation website provides more accurate descriptions of the dataset and the disaster information monitoring protocols. Since the first release of the EM-DAT Public Portal in 2020, EM-DAT has attracted approximately 60,000 users. The new documentation website will facilitate addressing the inquiries of our expanding user base. With a dedictated section on Known Issues and Limitations, the documentation is more transparent and aims to raise awareness about the limitations of the data, crucial for evidence-based policies and scientific research on disaster risks.