Could Mashups with user generated content provide situational awareness for emergency responders?


This hurricane season in the south of United States of America has triggered alot of activity on the internet. People affected by these hurricane seems to use what every channel they could to broadcast their experiences and updates of the situation. At Mibaazar, a fraction of these activities are used and combined in mashups in order to provide a richer information flow compared to just using youtube or twitter. These mashups are impressive. The flow of information is facinating and the view I as an individual living in Sweden receives is impressive. Using the mashups to follow these events reduces the “distance” between me and the events. One could imagine that offical emergency response organizations in the US are using these mashups in order to get the public view of the events. So, returning to my question: Could Mashups with user generated content provide situational awareness for emergency responders?, the answer must on a general level be YES. But in practice, I would guess few organizations have the capabilities in terms of predefined roles and the skills to make practical use of this type of user generated content. The mashups provided at Mibaazar is a good first step to structure the massive flow of information but I imagine that a lot of work need to be done in order for regional and local responders to make practical use of it. However, the skills in using “new” technology is also improving in those organizations and over time, perhaps just in a year or two, user generated content from social media and social software will become an important tool in public crisis and emergency response.

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