Post by: Kim Stephens
It seems there has been a lot of conversations on the #SMEM (or Social Media and Emergency Management) twitter hashtag about using volunteers to help response organizations deal with the huge volume of information that comes from social networks during a crisis. (One conversation was this recent chat.) Organizing those volunteers into a group with set expectations of what they will provide, and then integrating their work into the response effort, are the logical next steps.
One organization doing just that is the Standby Task Force (SBTF). They have set out to “…[turn] the adhoc groups of tech-savy mapping volunteers that emerge around crises into a flexible, trained and prepared network ready to deploy. The SBTF is a volunteer-based network that represents the first wave in Online Community Emergency Response Teams.”
The SBTF was tasked by the United Nations in March-April, 2011 to provide sense-making to social media data during the ongoing crisis in Libya. Jen Ziemke posted this video to the Crisis Mapper’s blog of Helena Puig from SBTF discussing the deployment during the ICCM conference . I thought it really provided some great insights into what went well and what could be improved.
Another great resource, for those interested in the topic, is this google doc: Standby Task Force UN OCHA. It is their After Action Report of the Libyan effort.