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Emergency Communications

Social media has become both popular and crucial in crisis and emergency communications. Responders are not only communicating to their public through social media outlets, the public is communicating with each other, and with responders. Individuals are able to provide important information on disaster impacts, including location and imagery, using nothing more than a smart phone equipped with a camera and GPS locator. The disaster management website www.ushahidi.com has formalized on a global scale the way that individuals may contribute to building emergency response and recovery information. Visit this website and read about one or more uses of the technology in practice.

Describe the pros and cons of this new phenomenon and explain where the greatest shifts can occur.
Identify and describe some of the ways technology is changing the emergency management field.
How can emergency managers balance the influence of social media inputs with historic standardized procedures?

Solution Preview

Describe the pros and cons of this new phenomenon and explain where the greatest shifts can occur.
Ushahidi is a mapping system that allows people to report and monitor emergencies, incidents, and disasters through an open-source PHP/Javascript platform. (Ushahidi, 2012). It was first used to monitor post-election violence in Kenya in 2007 and xenophobic violence in South Africa in 2008 (Ushahidi, 2012).
Ushahidi's use of mapping makes it simple to visualize discrete pieces of time-sensitive information. This means that it is possible to see where and when certain outbreaks or disasters are occurring. The global map view allows the program to be used by organization working on issues with international reach. Availability is also a obvious advantage to Ushahidi. Anyone can use it and it is easy accessible through mobile devices or computers. The interface is also very easy to use and clear instructions are provided, making the program simple to use, even for those with limited technological knowledge. ...

Solution Summary

The solution discuses how social media has become both popular and crucial in crisis and emergency communications.

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