Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Social media and emergency management: where's the next frontier?

I'm leaving for Washington D.C. in a few hours to take part in the SMEM (social media and emergency management) camp at the mid-year conference of the National Emergency Management Association.

I'm really looking forward to this occasion to share best practices and experiences with peers who are as enthusiastic as I am about the place of SM in all aspects of EM. I had a very interesting conversation today to help me prepare, with Heather Blanchard, the dynamo that seems to be behind so many things: from CrisisCommons to SMEM and much more !

Let me posit this first (and I could be wrong): notwithstanding the occasional dinosaur among EM practitioners, it's pretty much fait accompli nowadays that any EMO/agency should use social media as an emergency management tool.

Second, the value of SM as channels of information,. whether it originates from authorities toward their stakeholdersm or whether it comes from a more diffuse source (such as crisis or crowdmapping) was clearly established again with the devastating disaster in Japan. There has been story after story touting the role of SM in informing people and keeping in touch with families and loved ones,

Now, I'm hoping that my trip to DC will help me explore a third key function of SM in emergencies: that of enabler of data production, sharing, analysis, aggregation, filtering, all resulting in better situational awareness and a crisper common operational picture,

So, think of it this way: with social media and mobile technologies (go back to my earlier post here) you have empowered citizens and volunteers who can become data nodes and sensors by the hundreds, if not thousands.

If it's good enough for the USGS and its European counterpart, it's a pretty good indication that it has value for EM, in the EOC and elsewhere.

More to come in the next couple of days.

1 comment:

  1. Heather Blanchard definately is a dynamo and very driven for the cause of Crisis infomatics and SMEM. Crisis Commons has done so much for disaster response efforts and I believe alot more good things are coming. I'm looking forward to the conference presentations. I wont be able to be there in person but I know its going to be a wonderful exchange of ideas. Enjoyed the post. thanks for sharing it.