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Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management

By harnessing the collective power of citizens and engaging communities in their own response and recovery, new technologies and methods, like social media, crowdsourcing, and "crowd-mapping," have the potential to transform disaster management. Yet many challenges -- including characterization of reliability, guidelines for use, and demonstration of value -- must be addressed before federal agencies can take full advantage of these approaches. Early uses of social media and crowdsourcing methods in disasters have raised a number of questions: Can citizens generate inputs to critical decisions faster and perhaps more accurately than traditional methods? What is the research telling us, and how are the best ideas being translated into practice? How have agencies successfully navigated potential roadblocks to the use of citizen-generated information, such as privacy and procurement or the Paperwork Reduction Act? When and how is it possible to innovate through open and participatory design with citizens and communities? This workshop brought together members of the research, practitioner, policy, and "digital volunteer" communities to discuss the questions posed above and expand the list at the Woodrow Wilson Center. The objectives are to build a community of interest, prioritize key issues, and identify possible solutions.
By harnessing the collective power of citizens and engaging communities in their own response and recovery, new technologies and methods, like social media, crowdsourcing, and "crowd-mapping," have the potential to transform disaster man...
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