Filtering facts from dross is doubly important during a time of war, which is a critical frame for discussing Wikileaks, open government and new media hurricanes. It’s also true during hurricane season, when accurate reporting of storm tracks, damage and conditions is crucial. A capacity to maneuver more effectively in the most elemental of environments will be useful in 2010 and beyond.
One place that’s happening is at the top of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has been leveraging technology to more effectively deliver on his mission.
While FEMA has taken tough criticism over the years, its current administrator brings a common sense approach and deep experience from his work in emergency management in Florida.
He also highlighted the Crisis Commons Oil Reporter app as a prototype of the kind of robust app that could integrate FEMA open data.
“We work for the people, so why can’t they be part of the solution? “ said Fugate to the assembled Crisis Congress. “The public is a resource, not a liability.”
As a recent example, Fugate said that FEMA used reporters’ tweets during Hurricane Ike for situational awareness. “We’ve seen mashups providing better info than the government.”
Fugate has been out in front in leading an agency-wide effort to enable information and e-services to find citizens where they are, when they need to access it. For instance, a new mobile FEMA.gov allows citizens to apply for benefits from a cell phone.
More features are on their way to mobile platforms soon, too, according to Fugate. “I want an app on multiple platforms that knows where my phone is,” he said.
For more on what’s happening with FEMA in this space, read about last week’s Emergency Social Data Summit in Washington from the Red Cross or Voice of America or watch Craig Fugate talk about social media at InCaseOfEmergencyBlog.com.