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Use of Big Data in Disaster Recovery: An Integrative Literature Review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 December 2021

Andrew J. Rosenblum*
Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
Christopher M. Wend
The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC, USA
Zohaib Akhtar
The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
Lori Rosman
Welch Medical Library, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
Jeffrey D. Freeman
Center for Humanitarian Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
Daniel J. Barnett
Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
Corresponding author: Andrew J. Rosenblum, Email:



Disasters of all varieties have been steadily increasing in frequency. Simultaneously, “big data” has seen explosive growth as a tool in business and private industries while opportunities for robust implementation in disaster management remain nascent. To more explicitly ascertain the current status of big data as applied to disaster recovery, we conducted an integrative literature review.


Eleven databases were searched using iteratively developed keywords to target big data in a disaster recovery context. All studies were dual-screened by title and abstract followed by dual full-text review to determine if they met inclusion criteria. Articles were included if they focused on big data in a disaster recovery setting and were published in the English-language peer-reviewed literature.


After removing duplicates, 25,417 articles were originally identified. Following dual title/abstract review and full-text review, 18 studies were included in the final analysis. Among those, 44% were United States-based and 39% focused on hurricane recovery. Qualitative themes emerged surrounding geographic information systems (GIS), social media, and mental health.


Big data is an evolving tool for recovery from disasters. More research, particularly in real-time applied disaster recovery settings, is needed to further expand the knowledge base for future applications.

Systematic Review
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc.

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