How can emergency responders use 2,000 nerds?

Recognizing that technology and social media are changing the way in which we respond to disasters, the Red Cross invited CrisisCommons to speak to a gathering of emergency preparedness experts from across Ontario during the Emergency Management Conference (#CRCemergConf).

CrisisCommons is a not-for-profit group of tech volunteers - including software developers, designers and geomappers - dedicated to building tools that will help people in emergencies.

It has become obvious in local and international disasters that people are using the internet to talk about what is happening to them in real time. One thing CrisisCommons can do is to track all of that information and turn it into solid data.

For example, immediately after the earthquake in Haiti, many survivors shared their experiences online. By crunching the thousands of text messages, blogs, tweets and posts to online sites, CrisisCommons volunteers could determine where help was needed.

So what does this mean for us? Well, quite simply, there are new tools being developed to help emergency responders locate those in need in real-time.

During the presentation, one CrisisCommons panellist, Brian Chick (@leftbutton), asked this question: “If you had 2,000 nerds at your disposal, wouldn’t you use them?”

The trick now is to identify any gaps in collecting information in emergency response and determine how those 2,000 nerds can help.

Drop us a line if you have any ideas or comments. We’d definitely like to see this conversation continue.

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