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.
- Social media changes disaster response (brucehensler.typepad.com)
- One County’s Social Media Stats: Hurricane Sandy (idisaster.wordpress.com)
- Social Media In a Disaster: From Hoaxes to Healing (blogs.sap.com)
The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews. The looming gap in satellite coverage, which some experts view as almost certain within the next few years, could result in shaky forecasts about storms like Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit the East Coast early next week.
For full text of the article, visit Dying Satellites Could Lead to Shaky Weather Forecasts – NYTimes.com.
- Flying Blind: America’s Aging Weather Satellites (science.time.com)
by Lea Shanley, Communia Blog, Woodrow Wilson Center Science and Technology Innovation Program, September 1, 2011
“We’re less than a week removed from an historic hurricane Irene and a perhaps even rarer East Coast earthquake. So for all of us, the vital role that first responders play in helping us figure out what’s happening and what we need to do in such instances is fresh in our memories. But it’s not just a job for the pros. Now even average citizens, armed with smartphones undreamt of by previous generations, have a role to play during man-made and natural disasters.The worldwide response to the Haitian earthquake and Japanese Tsunami provided vivid proof that these technologies, and the citizens who use them, are playing an increasingly important role in emergency response and recovery. …Citizen-powered situational awareness was on display in dramatic ways. … But new technologies come with strings attached in the form of new legal and policy questions. In preparation for National Preparedness Month, the Woodrow Wilson Center and the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) Foundation co-hosted a panel discussion on “Liability and Reliability of Crowdsourced and Volunteered Information for Disaster Management” in Washington, D.C. on August 30, 2011. …”
For full text of the article and links to the archived video, click here.
Dr. Lea Shanley is the founder and former co-Chair of the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, a vibrant community of 200 federal employees from more than 35 agencies. She is also a co-founding member of the Citizen Science Association. Dr. Shanley recently served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at NASA, where she helped to foster a culture of open innovation. Prior to this, she founded and directed the Commons Lab at the Wilson Center, served in the US Senate as a Congressional Science Fellow, and worked with local and tribal communities to develop GIS-based decision support systems for city planning, natural resource management, coastal management, and disaster response through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog of links to relevant news, events, and reports, provided for educational purposes only. The opinions and views contained therein are those only of the authors of the original articles. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the editor of this blog or or associated organizations.
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