Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Community-based hazard information systems

Dr. Gordon A. GowThis evening I took part in a colloquium at LIRNEasia in Sri Lanka via Skype from Canberra on "The future of community-based hazard information systems: Insights from the Internet sharing economy" presented by Dr. Gordon A. Gow from University of Alberta:
The need for reliable early warning systems in countries around the world, including those in the Indian Ocean region, is well established.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge going forward is to find ways to sustain an acceptable level of emergency preparedness at the local community level.

The "public good" quality of early warning, however, presents a barrier to meeting that challenge.

Several design principles that support successful sharing economies on the Internet offer insight as to how we might overcome this barrier and develop innovative strategies to promote sustainable community-based hazard information systems.
Dr. Gow provided an excellent paper and set of slides and I will provide a link to these if they become available online.

He argued that we should look beyond early warning at preparedness. He suggested social media with Twitter type technology could be used, but has to be planned for, not used as a "heroic intervention". CAP was discussed. I note that Twitter for emergencies, CAP came up at the royal commission yesterday. The term "Crisis Informatics" was mentioned. The "last mile" is where the greatest challenge is. Dr. Gow argued that early warning should be linked to risk reduction.

Dr. Gow also suggested that social relationships could improve the quality of warning systems and social media could improve this. He asked what makes online communities successful, so this can be applied for emergencies.

There was some time spent defining terms like "hazard" and "disaster". My web page about "Emergency Web Page Design for Local Government" covers some of this. Also my "National Bushfire Warning System: Micro-blogging for emergencies"is relevant.

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