Utilizing Web 2.0 for Decision Support in Disaster Mitigation

Utilizing Web 2.0 for Decision Support in Disaster Mitigation

Kumaresh Rajan (The State University of New York at Buffalo, USA), Rui Chen (Ball State University, USA), Hejamadi Raghav Rao (The State University of New York at Buffalo, USA) and JinKyu Lee (Oklahoma State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-987-3.ch011

Abstract

The principles of Web 2.0 such as transparency, security, community, usability, and availability are well suited to help effectively manage the effects of a disaster. Many Web 2.0 technologies rely on social collaboration, and as a result these technologies are built with robust communication channels. Utilizing this existing framework will help to create software systems that can efficiently manage disasters. This chapter will examine differing Web 2.0 innovations through the use of Activity Theory, and the benefits and drawbacks of each technology will be analyzed. From this analysis, recommendations and conclusions will be presented to the reader.
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Web 2.0 Applications And Disaster Management

Social Tagging

Social tagging is a typical technology that is part of the Web 2.0 umbrella. This technology allows others individuals to associate keywords with any given topic. These keywords are used to categorize the different topics, and this user created index is used during keyword searches to aggregate similar topics as search results. All users have access to this information which in turn emphasizes the collaborative aspect of this Web 2.0 technology by shifting the responsibility of tagging new material from the content creator to content consumers. Allowing users to tag and sort different content can create more robust search results because multiple people are managing how the content is categorized.

Essentially users are creating a sizeable repository of highly specific metadata. For example, one user called for members of Flickr, an online photo sharing site, to tag all pictures related to Hurricane Katrina with a unique identifying keyword. Essentially, this user instructed other individuals to use the keywords “katrinamissing”, “katrinafound”, and “katrinaokay” to indicate the status of the individuals portrayed in the uploaded images. Similarly, after the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge in 2007, people were instructed by Flickr members to use the specific identifier of “mpls35W”. The selection of the keyword is only effective if non-generic terms are used. Generic keywords cause images to appear in multiple searches, and these retrieved images maybe irrelevant to the search criteria. For example, during the California wildfires and admin asked the users in his group to use the tags of “SanDiego” and “fire” to categorize the uploaded images, but the selection of these keywords caused the images to be retrieved in unrelated searches. The key to these initiatives is to create a system that enables community social interaction (Palen, 2008).

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