Personal Mobile Broadcasting in Emergency and Crisis Response

Personal mobile broadcasting is now about to really take off. It has been sometime since Justin.TV made big headlines in media as one of the first individuals that had personal mobile broadcasting capabilities. Now everyone can become their own broadcaster.
A few months ago I came across Pocketcaster from ComVu (Now LiveCast). The easiness of setting up the broadcasting service was impressive. Since then I have worked on the design of a research study where the focus is to explore how personal mobile broadcasting could be used in an emergency response and crisis response work setting. Just the other day, some students mentioned Bambuser. Tonight, I signed up on Bambuser and within a minute I was up and running with the extremely straightforward broadcasting service.

The use of such mobile broadcasting services has clear value in a range of personal and professional settings. From my perspective as a researcher in the domain of IT-design for emergency and crisis response, personal mobile broadcasting could have significant impact on future time-critical collaborative work. My initial field experiments using livecast has shown that power-consumption on the mobile phone is significant when broadcasting, but the most important obstacles in making broadcasting technology as success story is not in the technology but in organizational and work practice issues. From a first responder perspective, police, fire and rescue and paramedics, they all rely on very different legal grounds. Legal aspects are very different for the various response organizations, which also has a direct impact on the potential use of personal mobile broadcasting technologies. Apart from first responders, personal mobile broadcasting could also become a key technology in regional as well as national crisis response work. A key concept these days are “common operating picture” that from an technical perspective promise that all relevant data can be provided in a unified way using geographical maps as the background material. When the COP-people understands how well personal mobile broadcasting works already today, they will become thrilled on the range of possibilities that opens up.

A small suggestion is to start small here and pay close attention on critical aspects for such technology from an organizational, legal, and work practice perspective. There are at least a few people around that have deep insights in both the use of mobile technology and the work practice of emergency response that might be able to provide advice. 😉

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