Considering Disasters, Social Media and Crisis Congress at FEMA [#Gov20]

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.

Last month, Fugate talked frankly the first “Crisis Congress” about social media, disasters and the role Crisis Commons and civil society efforts could play in crises.

There are 
good reasons for that conversation. According to Fugate, ESRI built 
the ability to add Open Street Map as a layer after watching their
 work crisismapping Haiti.

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 

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 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

1 Comment

Filed under government 2.0, social media, technology, Twitter

One response to “Considering Disasters, Social Media and Crisis Congress at FEMA [#Gov20]

  1. Pingback: US Senate hears testimony on the role of social media in crisis response | Gov 2.0: The Power of Platforms

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