Exercise 24: Using Social Media for Crisis Response

Exercise 24: Using Social Media for Crisis Response

Austin W. Howe, Murray E. Jennex, George H. Bressler, Eric Frost
DOI: 10.4018/jiscrm.2011100103
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Can populations self organize a crisis response? This is a field report on the first two efforts in a continuing series of exercises termed “Exercise 24 or x24.” The first Exercise 24 focused on Southern California, while the second (24 Europe) focused on the Balkan area of Eastern Europe. These exercises attempted to demonstrate that self-organizing groups can form and respond to a crisis using low-cost social media and other emerging web technologies. Over 10,000 people participated in X24 while X24 Europe had over 49,000 participants. X24 involved people from 79 nations while X24 Europe officially included participants from at least 92 countries. Exercise 24 was organized by a team of workers centered at the SDSU Viz Center including significant support from the US Navy as well as other military and Federal organizations. Dr. George Bressler, Adjunct Faculty member at the Viz Center led both efforts. Major efforts from senior professionals EUCOM and NORTHCOM contributed significantly to the preparation for and success of both X24 and especially X24 Europe. This paper presents lessons learned and other experiences gained through the coordination and performance of Exercise 24.
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Cloud computing and social media have contributed to the wealth of sharing information across the globe, emergency managers, NGOs, and governments alike are seeking similar information management benefits for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. Numerous emergency managers have formed in these social networking worlds such as LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, etc. The capabilities of GIS in cloud environments have allowed for data collection, data processing, and data sharing across the emergency management field. For emergency managers, much of the data collection and processing can be performed as part of the preparation work. Data can be imported or created to reflect what might typically be required for a responding agency to operate effectively and communicate more openly with the counterparts involved in the emergency.

When an emergency strikes, the infrastructure of the cloud environment needs to be flexible enough to work in the field and to incorporate the multiple layers of additional data that will be collected and disseminated as part of the emergency response. In such a dynamic and challenging setting, the software technologies must be easy to handle and manage for those with limited knowledge of GIS or other software technologies. An overly complex software tool that requires additional specialists to run could result in response delays or a bottleneck situation just when the need for information becomes most critical.

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