Tag Archive | Emergency Management

New Report on Privacy and Crowdsourced Missing Persons Registries

From:              Fordham Law School and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Contact:         Peter Pochna, Rubenstein Associates, 212-843-8007, ppochna@rubenstein.com

FORDHAM LAW AND THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER RELEASE REPORT ON PRIVACY ISSUES RAISED BY MISSING PERSONS DATABASES

NEW YORK, NY AND WASHINGTON, DC (April XX, 2013) - The Fordham Center on Law and Information Policy (CLIP) at Fordham Law School and the Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars today issued a report titled “Privacy and Missing Persons after Natural Disasters,” prepared as part of a joint project. The report is available for free download at:

http://www.scribd.com/collections/3840667/Commons-Lab-Science-and-Technology-Innovation-Program-STIP and http://ssrn.com/abstract=2229610

The report offers a roadmap to the legal and policy issues surrounding privacy and missing persons following natural disasters. It provides strategies that humanitarian organizations, private sector organizations, volunteers and policy makers can pursue to help those affected by major natural disasters. For example, the report recommends that the United States government exercise existing legal authority to support appropriate sharing of personal information about missing persons following natural disasters. More broadly, the report recommends that those developing technologies to share information about missing persons implement design principles that carefully balance privacy consistent with existing legal obligations. The report also calls on privacy policy makers, legislators, and regulators to take steps to clarify how privacy rules apply to missing persons activities in identified key areas so that missing persons activities can proceed without the threat of legal liability.

“With this project, Fordham CLIP is trying to help the people and organizations assisting in the location of missing persons recognize and deal with critical privacy issues by providing a range of options to address the legal and policy concerns,” said Joel R. Reidenberg, the academic director of Fordham CLIP and a co-author of the report.  Robert Gellman, a privacy expert and co-author of the report, added, “Missing persons services are essential following natural disasters, but they can raise questions about how privacy laws apply to emergency humanitarian responses. The report suggests ways to resolve those questions.”

The project is part of an international effort led by the Missing Persons Community of Interest (MPCI) that is seeking to harmonize a wide array of databases and technologies to enhance searches for missing persons following natural disasters. MPCI, which emerged in response to the 2010 Haitian earthquake, includes participants from local disaster management, international humanitarian relief organizations, private sector technology companies, non-profits, and digital volunteer communities.

Tim Schwartz, the chair of MPCI, said the report “gives us for the first time a thorough analysis of how missing persons technologies impact individual privacy and provides us with a valuable framework that will help us refine these critical and complex systems.” Lea Shanley, director of the Commons Lab at the Wilson Center, added, “Response organizations and volunteer groups must work to find an appropriate balance between protecting privacy and safety, and facilitating critical information sharing about affected populations and missing persons during and after disasters. This research will inform the development of privacy guidelines and best practices.”

The report examined privacy issues created by missing persons activities following several recent natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand in February 2011 and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in August 2005.  The report identified New Zealand as a leader in addressing the privacy issues that follow natural disasters and in prompting the world’s data protection authorities to pay more attention to those issues. The report discusses the New Zealand response and shows what other data protection authorities can do to provide clarity in applying privacy rules to missing persons activities.

Joining Reidenberg on the team that created the report are Gellman, a privacy and information policy consultant who previously served as chief counsel to the U.S. House of Representative Government Operations Committee and served as a member of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, Jamela Debelak, CLIP’s executive director, and CLIP student researchers Adam Elewa and Nancy Liu.

The project was supported by the Wilson Center and a gift made by Fordham University alumnus and trustee Ed Stroz and his digital risk management company, Stroz Friedberg.

The Commons Lab of the Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program seeks to advance research and independent policy analysis on emerging technologies that facilitate collaborative, science-based and citizen-driven decision-making, with an emphasis on their social, legal, and ethical implications. The initiative does not advocate for or against specific technological platforms, rather works to ensure that these technologies are developed and used in a way that maximizes benefits while reducing risks and unintended consequences. Our work often focuses on novel governance options at the “edges” where the crowd and social media operate—between formal organizations and emergent networks, and between proprietary and open models of data ownership and access.

The Fordham Center on Law and Information Policy (CLIP) was founded to make significant contributions to the development of law and policy for the information economy and to teach the next generation of leaders. CLIP brings together scholars, the bar, the business community, technology experts, the policy community, students, and the public to address and assess policies and solutions for cutting-edge issues that affect the evolution of the information economy.

Tweeting Up a Storm

Commons Lab, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, December 2012

We are inundated daily with stories from the news media about the possible impact social media like Facebook and Twitter will have on our lives. When a storm like Hurricane Sandy hits the East Coast, can this technology actually help to save lives and reduce catastrophic damages? It’s possible. For instance, mobile devices could allow emergency responders, affected communities, and volunteers to rapidly collect and share information as a disaster unfolds. Photos and videos provided through social media could help officials determine where people are located, assess the responses and needs of affected communities—such as water, food, shelter, power and medical care—and alert responders and citizens to changing conditions.

At least that is the promise. When Hurricane Irene barreled across the Eastern seaboard in August 2011, many in the news media cited it as a pivotal moment for social media for disasters. But research we conducted on the use of social media during Irene suggests otherwise. While some emergency management departments launched new social media outreach strategies during the storm, particularly to push information out to the public, many did not change their practices radically and overall use of the technology varied.

This article explores the challenges of effective use of social media for disaster response, read more here.

Commons Lab Webcast: Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management

On behalf of the Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation, the International Association for Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, ESRI, TechChange, NetHope, and Project EPIC, we are honored to invite you to participate in a LIVE WEBCAST of the policy roundtable “Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management.” This roundtable will focus on US federal government’s opportunities and challenges for facilitating greater public engagement in the full-cycle of disaster management through social media, crowdsourcing methods, crisis mapping, and open innovation.

Webcast

The workshop itself is now full, but we will be making the majority of the panel discussions available via a LIVE WEBCAST from the Wilson Center webpages (links below):
Click on these links above to watch the live webcasts and to download copies of the agenda and background materials (to be posted Monday, September 10).

Of Hurricanes and Hashtags: Disaster Relief in the Social-Media Age

by Adam Mazmanian, National Journal, June 3, 2012

Just hours after a tornado devastated parts of Joplin, Mo., in the late afternoon of May 22, 2011, the mother-daughter team of Rebecca and Genevieve Williams of the nearby town of Neosho went to work on a Facebook page. … In the days that followed, the page became a clearinghouse for information on recovery, how to volunteer, where to donate supplies, media updates, and requests for information about loved ones. Eventually, administrator privileges were extended to 30 volunteers, including public-information officials at the local gas, electric, and water utilities. It was one big piece of a spontaneous eruption of social media that helped those survivors who relied on their smartphones for access to information. …

If the House version of the bill appropriating FEMA’s budget for 2013 becomes law, Fugate will have to show that the agency has a plan for deploying social media. A provision requires FEMA to improve its ability to collect data in real time through social-media monitoring and messaging and directs the agency to produce a report on the utility of social media in disaster response. …

For full text of this article, please visit Of Hurricanes and Hashtags: Disaster Relief in the Social-Media Age – Adam Mazmanian – NationalJournal.com.

FEMA’s David Kaufman Addresses Technology Foresight for Emergency Management

Federal Emergency Management Agency

by Eric Holdeman, Disaster Zone, Emergency Management Magazine, March 19, 2012

David J. Kaufman serves as the director of FEMA’s Office of Policy and Program Analysis. He is responsible for providing leadership, analysis, coordination and decision-making support to the FEMA administrator on a wide range of agency policies, plans, programs and key initiatives. … In his current position, he led the coordination effort to develop the Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI). This initiative brought together a wide cross-section of the emergency management community to explore key future issues, trends and other factors, and to work through their implications. The result is a 36-page document titled Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030: Forging Strategic Action in an Age of Uncertainty. …

For the full text of the interview with David Kaufman, conducted by Eric Holdeman of Emergency Management Magazine, visit FEMA’s David Kaufman Addresses Emergency Management Trends.

Is there a mapping drone in your future?

Matt Ball, V1 Magazine, March 2012, Vol 6, Issue 12

….With the passing of a recent bill in the United States that calls for the Federal Aviation Administration to integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace system by 2015, the widespread use of drones is imminent. Industry advocacy groups have long been clamoring for such language, and with the technology proliferating, it has just been a matter of time for the regulations to lift. Small craft under 55 lbs. are prioritized in the bill, with language that allows them to fly within 27 months, and allows for them to be flown in the U.S. Arctic within one year. Under the bill, first responders will be allowed to fly UAS of 4.4 pounds or less within 90 days, prioritizing their assistance in saving lives and increasing public safety. …

For full text of the article, visit Is there a mapping drone in your future?.

What is a Virtual Operations Support Team?

Have you heard of Virtual Operations Support Teams? Scott Reuter posted a guest blog post on iDisaster 2.0 Blog outlining the concept.

by Scott Reuter, iDisaster 2.0 Blog, February 13, 2012

…. Here’s a quick definition of the VOST [Virtual Operations Support Team] concept:

Virtual Operations Support (VOS) as applied to emergency management and disaster recovery is an effort to make use of new communication technologies and social media tools so that a team of trusted agents can lend support via the internet to those on-site who may otherwise be overwhelmed by the volume of data generated during a disaster.

VOS Teams (VOST) are activated to perform specific functions in support of affected organizations & jurisdictions. Each VOST has a Team Leader that reports directly to the affected organization/jurisdiction. ….

For an overview of this concept and how it’s being implemented in the filed, see Scott Reuter’s post What is a Virtual Operations Support Team? | idisaster 2.0.

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