Four New Sources on Social Media added to Bibliography

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Post by: Kim Stephens

I wanted to highlight the 4 new sources I added to the bibliography:

  1. Lesperance, AM “Social Networking for Emergency Management and Public Safety.”  August 2010. Prepared for Department of Energy by Battelle. Accessed Sept. 2010. <>.

This report was prepared for the Interagency Biological Restoration Demonstration Program and is the summary of the workshop titled “Social Networking for Emergency Management and Public Safety” held this past March in Seattle, Washington. The workshop addressed current uses of social media as well as obstacles agencies might encounter in pursuing this new form of communications (including internal policy constraints). Best practices were highlighted and  potential future uses were discussed.

The workshop led to several conclusions:

 Agencies have to trust the public on some level to manage emergencies. All emergencies are local, and public.

 More needs to be studied in regards to how crowd sourcing leads to robust decisions. Experts in general tend to struggle with the concept that people are turning more and more online to a fan base to help guide their decisions.

 Deferring the release of information is no longer an option. Social media tools can be used; they are being used and used well in the emergency management community. Agencies must consider the ramifications (staffing, resources, control of information) when joining the social media conversation.

 Public demand and competition, even among government agencies, will drive the data. One city cannot afford to remain silent when others are openly sharing.

 People want information, and they expect it immediately. The challenge will be balancing resources and accuracy against the need to produce instant information.

 Government agencies may have to change policies, practices, and skill sets to effectively use social media. They will need to use new terms like branding and dialogue. They may also need to partner more broadly.

2.  Yasin, Rutrell. “5 ways to use social media for better emergency response.” Government Computer News. 2 Sept. 2010. Accessed Sept. 2010. <>.

Another useful article, which can be found on the Government Computer News blog. In sum, the 5 ways social media can be used during an emergency response:

  • Reach a wider audience.
  • Send and receive emergency alerts.
  • Monitor the conversation.
  • Integrate data sources for situational awareness.
  • Collaborate with responders.

3. “Project EPIC: Empowering the Public with Information in Crisis.” University of Colorado, Boulder and University of California, Irvine. 2010. Accessed September 2010. <>.

I mentioned Project Epic in my post on Sept. 10 in connection with  their work during the Colorado Wildfires.  The EPIC project, led by Dr. Leysia Palen, is supported by a grant from the US National Science Foundation and is one of the few empirically-based projects related to social media, or what they call “computer mediated communication.”

4. Palen, Leysia, et. al. “A Vision for Technology-Mediated Support for Public Participation & Assistance in Mass Emergencies & Disasters.” British Informatics Society Ltd., Proceedings of ACM-BCS Visions of Computer Science. 2010. Accessed Sept. 2010. <>.

This is a formal paper. The abstract:

We present a vision of the future of emergency management that better supports inclusion of activities and information from members of the public during disasters and mass emergency events. Such a vision relies on integration of multiple subfields of computer science, and a commitment to an understanding of the domain of application. It supports the hopes of a grid/cyberinfrastructure-enabled future that makes use of social software. However, in contrast to how emergency management is often understood, it aims to push beyond the idea of monitoring on-line activity, and instead focuses on an understudied but critical aspect of mass emergency response—the needs and roles of members of the public. By viewing the citizenry as a powerful, self-organizing, and collectively intelligent force, information and communication technology can play a transformational role in crisis. Critical topics for research and development include an understanding of the quantity and quality of information (and its continuous change) produced through computer-mediated communication during emergencies; mechanisms for ensuring trustworthiness and security of information; mechanisms for aligning informal and formal sources of information; and new applications of information extraction techniques.

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