recommended reading

Spotting the Trends in Disaster Tweets

From left, Carter Hewgley, Nicole Chapple and Gloria Huang participated in the panel Thursday.

From left, Carter Hewgley, Nicole Chapple and Gloria Huang participated in the panel Thursday. // Kristoffer Tripplaar

Disasters are defined by chaos, an orderly system gone awry. But there are patterns in how disasters unfold that emergency managers monitoring social media can use to make smart decisions about what’s real and what doesn’t add up, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency official.

Phase one of using social media to aid emergency management is about gathering situational awareness from tweets and Facebook posts, broadcasting important safety information to people in the disaster area and correcting misinformation, said Carter Hewgley, director of FEMAStat, a program evaluation arm of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The second phase, Hewgley said, is about learning from patterns in how the public uses social media in disasters so you can respond in a smarter way the next time. He was speaking at Nextgov’s government technology conference Nextgov Prime.

“I think the emergency management community defaults to the ‘every disaster is different mentality,’ Hewgley said. “Every disaster is different but there are enormous amounts of similarity. Human beings tend to be very predictable and one of the really powerful things we’ll eventually be able to analyze with social media is the predictive patterns we see people going through, and we’ll be able to move faster because we’ve seen these patterns play out before in events of this type.”

The Red Cross advises volunteers that even if they have “zero information” about a disaster they still know certain things that they can tweet out immediately, such as best practices for taking shelter, said Senior Engagement Specialist Gloria Huang.

The Red Cross also trains employees and volunteers to vet information they gather over social media during a disaster -- for instance, about people who are stranded or trapped under rubble, she said. Those sorts of tweets and posts have helped rescue workers save lives, she said, but often include incorrect information that’s either secondhand or intentionally misleading.

The Red Cross trains people to tweet back at tipsters, asking where their information came from and for more details, she said. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.