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.


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).

Social Media Engagement

In addition, we had so much fun with TechChange helping us with our last event (Crowdsourcing and USAID Development Credit Loans) that we’ve asked them to facilitate the social media engagement for two keynote sessions:
To watch the live webcasts of these two keynotes and submit your comments and questions:
  • Click on the two links above to watch the keynote events and submit comments online.
  • Follow the live webcast discussion on Twitter using hashtag: #DG2G
  • You also can email your questions for the panelists before and during the live webcast: DG2G [at] TechChange [dot] org

Workshop Abstract

By harnessing the collective power of citizens and engaging communities in their own response and recovery, new technologies and methods, like social media, crowdsourcing, and “crowd-mapping,” have the potential to transform disaster management. Yet many challenges – including characterization of reliability, guidelines for use, and demonstration of value – must be addressed before federal agencies can take full advantage of these approaches.  Early uses of social media and crowdsourcing methods in disasters have raised a number of questions: Can citizens generate inputs to critical decisions faster and perhaps more accurately than traditional methods? What is the research telling us, and how are the best ideas being translated into practice? How have agencies successfully navigated potential roadblocks to the use of citizen-generated information, such as privacy and procurement or the Paperwork Reduction Act? When and how is it possible to innovate through open and participatory design with citizens and communities? This event will bring together members of the research, practitioner, policy, and “digital volunteer” communities to discuss the questions posed above and expand the list, as needed.  The objectives are to build a community of interest, prioritize key issues, and identify possible solutions.

Keynote Discussion: Agency Vision and Decision-Maker Needs

Thursday, September 13th, from 8:45 – 9:45 AM
Moderated by Alex Howard, Government 2.0 Washington Correspondent, O’Reilly Media
What information do local and federal government decision-makers need for disaster response and research? How do information needs differ for on-the-ground responders, back-office decision-makers, and those conducting research? Where might government agencies effectively leverage the power of social networking, crowdsourcing, and other innovations to augment existing information or intelligence and improve decision-making? What agency policies will need to be adapted or established? What is the strategic vision for the next 5-10 years?

Keynote Discussion: Connecting Grassroots to Government through Open Innovation

Moderated by Gisli Olafsson, NetHope
Friday, September 14th from 1:00pm-1:55pm US Eastern
Federal procurement rules are often oriented to controlling fair competition between entities that are unlikely to collaborate. Open innovation often takes the opposite approach: aggregating multiple tools into ecosystems that can solve complex problems through collaboration of organizations across specializations. When should agencies use competition or collaboration? What are the best methods and models for organizing collective work? From the perspective of leaders in government, what are the main challenges that need to be overcome if open innovation is to take a wider role in federal problem solving? This panel will assemble key players in the federal technology space and ask how to work towards open innovation for disaster response.

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