A Local Organization with a Global Reach

Disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires cause immense devastation, loss of life, and billions of dollars in damages every year, at home and abroad. The tragic Lahaina and Upcountry wildfires on Maui are only the latest evidence of such tragedies we all recently experienced.

Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) is an applied research center with a global reach, focused on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Center supports disaster management agencies and humanitarian assistance organizations at home in Hawaii and around the world. “LĪPOA is a very attractive place for our staff to work . It has a campus and tech park feel that help us recruit and retain local talent and staff,” says PDC Executive Director Ray Shirkhodai.

PDC was established in 1996, with support from former U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, to serve as an agile and innovative information resource to help reduce disaster risks in Hawaii, and around the world. Managed by the University of Hawaii (UH), the Center is one of several high-tech operations headquartered in LĪPOA, conducting world-class research and development.

The Center created, and continually operates a global, multi-hazard DisasterAWARE platform for early warning and decision support which is used widely by multiple U.S. civil defense agencies, the U.N., the International Federation of Red Cross, and even the International Atomic Energy Agency. DisasterAWARE was heavily used during the Lahaina wildfires to coordinate response activities. Within only a few hours after the wildfires, PDC was the first (and to-date, remains the only) organization to provide estimated impacts to our population and economic losses.

Those initial loss estimates were used by Hawaii’s Governor Green to brief the public and the officials regarding the magnitude of the event early on.

A free mobile version of DisasterAWARE, called Disaster Alert, has been downloaded more than two million times and remains the top-rated app for global disaster alerting. Through UH licensing arrangements, companies like Shell Oil, Daimler, Facebook’s Meta, and other Fortune 100’s are making use of Disaster-AWARE Enterprise to safeguard supply chains, operations, and employees.

PDC is also pioneering new applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
for hazard notifications, advanced analytics, and new modeling capabilities
in partnership with NASA and other partners to ensure even the most remote
communities are covered by hazard monitoring and early warning. The
Center also continues to lead with cutting-edge research and analytics related to the understanding of contributing factorsof disaster and climate risk to build
resilience here and around the globe.

In 2022, their work in aiding humanitarian efforts in time of disaster was duly recognized as the United Nations presented them with the
prestigious Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction, an award given every other 2-3 years. PDC is the only organization based in the U.S. that has ever received the award.

Over the past 27 years, PDC has provided STEM internship opportunities for more than 70 up-and-coming professionals—22 of whom became full-time staff following their internships.

To learn more about the Pacific Disaster Center, follow them on social media at @PDCGlobal and on Twitter @PDC_Global or visit pdc.org.